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Marina, Mario and João Chemistry 10A

The second group in the periodic table


is the group of the alkaline earth
metals. It consists of the elements
beryllium, magnesium, calcium,
strontium, barium and radium. They
have plenty of different applications,
ranging from the manufacture of
fireworks to ingredients in dental and
health products.
Generally, they have a set of
common characteristics, like color,
format and reactivity. This is due to Beryllium is a main element in gems such as emeralds
their similar electrical configuration: and aquamarines.
all elements in this group have two
in a very low concentration (up to 2%
electrons in their outermost energy
only) to make them stronger, more
level and end in the "s" orbital. They
resistant and more stable at high
are very reactive, so much that they
temperature.
can't be found alone in nature, and
Magnesium, the next metal in line,
quickly lose electrons to other
is essential to life. It is in the core of
elements, especially to halogens and
chlorophyll, the pigment present in
other non-metals. They have a silvery
plants that plays a critical role in
color and are relatively soft and shiny.
photosynthesis, the transformation of
carbon dioxide into oxygen, making
Applications life possible in our planet. However, it
Each alkaline earth metal has a also has a darker use. Magnesium was
different use. Beryllium, the one with widely used during war time in
the smallest number of protons, is bombs, flares, and bullets due to its
found primarily in gems such as incendiary quality. Besides that, it
emeralds and aquamarines, in the used to be a primary component in
compound beryl, made of beryllium, aircrafts and other military equipment.
aluminum and silicon. It is also used Calcium, perhaps, is the most well-
in the place of glass in x-ray tubes, known alkaline earth metal. Due to its
since it allows more of the radiation to vital role in our body, we all need a
go through; and is used in metal alloys certain amount of calcium ingestion. It
is necessary for the proper growth of radium provided more problems than
our teeth and bones, and regulates benefits, sealing once and for all the
heartbeat and blood pressure. Outside use of this radioactive element. 
of our body, calcium also has its uses.
Limestone, a material made of
calcium, has since long been used in
building materials; chalk, a compound
of calcium and carbon, is well-used in
classrooms all around the world; and
calcium is also used for the paper,
dairy and metallurgical industries.
Strontium is a lesser-known alkaline
earth metal. In the past, it was a quite
polemic element, since one of its
isotopes was the byproduct of nuclear
explosions. However, nowadays, its
only use is in firework making, where
its bright red flame is very useful.
Barium has two main uses. It is used
as lubricant in well-drilling operations
and for engine cleaning in general. In
the area of health-care, it has a peculiar
utilization: doctors give barium sulfate
for the patients about to take x-rays,
since this element can easily absorb
radiation, making it safer for the
patient and increasing the accuracy of
the exams.
Radium is the only radioactive
metal from this group. Formerly, it
was used as treatment for cancer and
in signs and clocks, due to its glowing
property. However, its use has since
declined, because it was discovered
that radium was very hazardous to
life, and there were many workers in
the clock making industry that died
because of prolonged exposure to this
element. Besides that, scientists soon
found out that, in cancer treatment,