56Ba Barium

Year Discovered

1808

Discovered By

Sir Humphry Davy of England

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.

Description

Named from the Greek word meaning “heavy”, barium is a soft, silvery-white metal. It is an active metal, reacting with air, water, acids and bases. Because it is insoluble in the body, barium sulfate is used as an x-ray tracer for the stomach and intestines. Barium is also used in drilling fluids for oil exploration, as well as in paints, fireworks (where it produces a green color), glass and rubber making. It is also used in water softeners, desiccants and rodent poisons.

Biological Benefits

Barium has no known biological use, although it acts to stimulate the metabolism.

Role in Life Processes

No known benefits for life processes in plants and animals.

Percentage Amount in the Human Body: 0.00003%

Sources

Barium is obtained from the minerals barite (barium sulfate) and witherite (barium carbonate). It is mined in China, India and the USA.