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scarlet red color, Selenium sulfide, Sodium selenate, seborrheic dermatitis, atomic number

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>  Properties and Occurence

Selenium (Greek selene, “moon”), symbol Se, semimetallic element with an atomic number of 34. Selenium is in group 16 (or VIa) of the periodic table.

Selenium was discovered in 1817 by the Swedish chemist Baron Jons Jakob Berzelius in a sulfuric acid residue. It was so called because it was found in association with the element tellurium (Latin tellus, “earth”).


Gray selenium conducts electricity; it is a better conductor of electricity in light than in darkness, the conductivity varying directly with the intensity of light. It is therefore used in many photoelectric devices. In the form of red selenium or as sodium selenide the element is used to impart a scarlet red color to clear glass, glazes, and enamels. It is also used to a great extent as a decolorizer of glass because it neutralizes the greenish tint produced by iron (ferrous) compounds. Small amounts of selenium are added to vulcanized rubber to increase its resistance to abrasion. Sodium selenate is an insecticide used to combat insects that attack cultivated plants, particularly chrysanthemums and carnations; the insecticide is scattered around the roots and is carried by the sap throughout the plant. Selenium sulfide is used in the treatment of dandruff, acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and other skin diseases.

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