51Sb Antimony

Year Discovered

Antiquity

Discovered By

Unknown

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.

Description

Named from the Greek words meaning “not alone”, antimony is a metalloid element that primarily is found as a very brittle bluish-white metallic substance. It is unreactive to air, acids or bases. Most important use for antimony in fire-retardant chemicals that are added to plastics and textiles, especially for children’s clothing. Antimony also is used as an alloy, as it hardens other metals. An alloy with lead greatly improves strength and hardness of lead. It also is used in semiconductors, diodes, infrared detectors, batteries and bullets. Antimony compounds are used in paint pigments, enamels, glass, and pottery. The symbol for antimony, Sb, comes from antimony’s Latin name stibium.

Biological Benefits

Antimony has no known biological use.

Role in Life Processes

No known benefit in life processes.

Percentage Amount in the Human Body: 0.000003%

Sources

Antimony is sometimes found in pure form. It also is obtained from the mineral stibnite (antimony sulfide) and commonly is a by-product of lead-zinc-silver mining. Other antimony-bearing minerals include sibiconite, tetrahedrite and ullmannite. It is mined in China, Bolivia, South Africa and Mexico.