Antimony is a chemical element with the symbol Sb and an atomic number of 51. It has two stable isotopes, one with seventy neutrons, the other with seventy-two. A silvery lustrous grey metalloid, it is found mainly as antimony sulfide, commonly known as Stibnite.
Elemental antimony has applications in electronics and as an alloy with other metals it is used for small arms ammunition.
Treatments principally containing are known as antimonials and are used as emetics.
Antimony compounds are used as antiprotozoan drugs. Antimony potassium tartrate, or tartar emetic, has been used in the past as an anti-schistosomal drug, later replaced by praziquantel.
Antimony and its compounds are used in several veterinary preparations like anthiomaline or lithium antimony thiomalate, which is used as a skin conditioner in ruminants.
Antimony has a nourishing or conditioning effect on keratinized tissues, at least in animals. Antimony-based drugs, such as meglumine antimoniate, are also considered the drugs of choice for treatment of leishmaniasis in domestic animals. Unfortunately, as well as having low therapeutic indices, the drugs are poor at penetrating the bone marrow, where some of the Leishmania amastigotes reside, and so cure of the disease – especially the visceral form – is very difficult.
It is used in the heads of some safety matches; in nuclear reactors together with Beryllium in startup neutron sources; in the form of antimony oxides, antimony sulfides, and antimony trichloride are used in the making of flame-proofing compounds, ceramic enamels, glass, paints, and pottery. Antimony trioxide is the most important of the antimony compounds and is primarily used in flame-retardant formulations. These flame-retardant applications include such markets as children’s clothing, toys, aircraft and automobile seat covers. It is also used in the fiberglass composites industry as an additive to polyester resins for such items as light aircraft engine covers. The resin will burn while a flame is held to it but will extinguish itself as soon as the flame is removed.
Antimony and many of its compounds are toxic, and the effects of antimony poisoning are very similar to arsenic poisoning. Inhalation of antimony dust is harmful and in certain cases may be fatal; in small doses, antimony causes headaches, dizziness, and depression. Larger doses such as prolonged skin contact may cause dermatitis; otherwise it can damage the kidneys and the liver, causing violent and frequent vomiting, and will lead to death in a few days.
Antimony is incompatible with strong oxidizing agents, strong acids, halogen acids, chlorine, or fluorine. Keep away from heat.