Bromine is a chemical element with the symbol Br and atomic number 35. It is a volatile red-brown liquid at room temperature that evaporates readily to form a similarly coloured vapour. Its properties are intermediate between those of chlorine and iodine. Isolated independently by two chemists, Carl Jacob Löwig (in 1825) and Antoine Jérôme Balard (in 1826), its name was derived from the Ancient Greek βρῶμος (bromos) meaning "stench", referring to its sharp and pungent smell.
Elemental bromine is very reactive and thus does not occur as a free element in nature. Instead, it can be isolated from colourless soluble crystalline mineral halide salts analogous to table salt, a property it shares with the other halogens. While it is rather rare in the Earth's crust, the high solubility of the bromide ion (Br−) has caused its accumulation in the oceans. Commercially the element is easily extracted from brine evaporation ponds, mostly in the United States and Israel. The mass of bromine in the oceans is about one three-hundredth that of chlorine.
At standard conditions for temperature and pressure it is a liquid; the only other element that is liquid under these conditions is mercury. At high temperatures, organobromine compounds readily dissociate to yield free bromine atoms, a process that stops free radical chemical chain reactions. This effect makes organobromine compounds useful as fire retardants, and more than half the bromine produced worldwide each year is put to this purpose. The same property causes ultraviolet sunlight to dissociate volatile organobromine compounds in the atmosphere to yield free bromine atoms, causing ozone depletion. As a result, many organobromine compounds—such as the pesticide methyl bromide—are no longer used. Bromine compounds are still used in well drilling fluids, in photographic film, and as an intermediate in the manufacture of organic chemicals.
Large amounts of bromide salts are toxic from the action of soluble bromide ions, causing bromism. However, bromine is beneficial for human eosinophils, and is an essential trace element for collagen development in all animals. Hundreds of known organobromine compounds are generated by terrestrial and marine plants and animals, and some serve important biological roles. As a pharmaceutical, the simple bromide ion (Br−) has inhibitory effects on the central nervous system, and bromide salts were once a major medical sedative, before replacement by shorter-acting drugs. They retain niche uses as antiepileptics.