At least 42 people received hospital treatment in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk after a leak of the toxic chemical bromine in a rail incident. Between 24 and 50 litres (5-11 gallons) were released, said officials. NTV broadcast images of a dirty orange cloud hanging over the town and said there had been a run on face masks. According to the BBC report, Russia’s Interfax news agency said the bromine was being carried by train in 2,267 two-litre (four-pint) glass containers, some of which were broken as carriages were moved around at the town’s main railway station.
Bromine, Br has atomic number 35, atomic mass 79.904. The name comes from the Greek “bromos” meaning the stench of billgoats. It is a halogen and was isolated independently by two chemists, Carl Jacob Löwig and Antoine Jerome Balard, in 1825–1826. Elemental bromine is a fuming red-brown liquid at room temperature, corrosive and toxic, with properties between those of chlorine and iodine. Free bromine does not occur in nature, but occurs as colourless soluble crystalline mineral halide salts, analogous to table salt.