Strontium carbonate (SrCO3) was formerly used in large quantities in the manufacturing of CRT TVs (CRT = cathode-ray tubes) as strontium carbonate together with other compounds absorbs and reduces significantly (to almost zero) the X-rays generated from the television tubes.
Nowadays, modern flat-panel devices have almost completely replaced these tubes. Currently, strontium carbonates are being used in pyrotechnics as colour-producing components – strontium produces a crimson red flame. The Latin term “Strontium carbonicum” refers to the homeopathic application of this material which is used to treat osteoarthritis and cerebral sclerosis.
How can I come into contact with this material?
Strontium salts are used in fireworks to produce crimson red flames after ignition and it is not possible to get into direct contact with airborne strontium carbonate nanoparticles during the burning process. Homeopathic administered strontium carbonate could be considered as a targeted approach for medical purposes but it is not clear if the medical products contain micro- or nano-scaled strontium carbonate or even a mixture of both.
Is there any risk from this material to humans and the environment?
Little information exists on the effects of strontium carbonate nanoparticles on humans or the environment. This may be due to the relatively small number of applications for this material. Laboratory studies have shown that different cell types can take up strontium carbonate nanoparticles and high doses may lead to cell death. However, no harmful effects of strontium carbonate nanoparticles have been found in whole animal studies.
Regarding the environmental behaviour of strontium carbonate nanoparticles, there are currently no data available.
In recent years the use of strontium carbonate has been reduced drastically as flat-panel televisions have taken over the TV market. Contact with strontium carbonate nanoparticles could take place through the burning of fireworks or the intake of homeopathic medications. Up until now, no harmful effects of strontium carbonate have been found for the human body.
By the way…
Both strontium carbonate and strontium itself are non-toxic. Radioactive isotopes of strontium were found after nuclear disasters in Chernobyl (former USSR, today Ukraine) and in Fukushima (Japan). As these isotopes are chemically very similar to calcium, the strontium isotopes can accumulate in bone tissue and the resulting radiation could then in turn also damage the bone marrow.