39Y Yttrium

Year Discovered


Discovered By

Johann Gadolin of Finland

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


Named after a city in Sweden, yttrium is a soft, gray-white metal. It is fairly stable in air (as long as it is not ground up), but reacts with water, acids and bases. Moon rocks show an unusually high yttrium content. Yttrium is used as a phosphor in TV screens, producing the red color. Other uses include a microwave filter as well as a catalysts. When alloyed with aluminum, magnesium and chromium, it acts to strengthen those metals. It is also used as a material in superconductors and lasers. An isotope of yttrium, Y90, is used in needles for certain surgical procedures.

Biological Benefits

Yttrium has no know biological use.

Role in Life Processes

No known benefit to life processes.


Yttrium is present in nearly all rare-earth minerals. It is obtained by mining the minerals bastnasite, fergusonite, monazite, samarskite and xenotime, which are mined in the USA, China, Australia, India and Brazil.