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What Are the Different Uses of Selenium?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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Selenium can be used to either add or remove color from glass. It is also used in many electronic devices and photocopiers. Selenium can also be used to make pigments for certain materials, especially glazes, and it can be used to improve metal alloys. Individuals also need to ingest a certain amount of selenium to stay healthy, and not doing so could lead to a variety of health problems. One of the uses of selenium includes making selenium supplements.

One of the most common uses of selenium involves glass manufacturing. When some glass is made, iron oxide impurities leave a greenish tint. To prevent this discoloration, selenium is often added. Bright red glass, such as that in a stop light, can also be made using selenium. A large quantity of selenium must be used, however, to create this effect.

Selenium is considered a semiconductor. This means that it conducts some electricity, but it does not conduct as much electricity as a conductor. In the electronics industries, semiconductors made from selenium are often used in transistors.

Another of the more popular uses of selenium is to make photocopies. Drums or belts inside certain photocopiers are often covered with selenium. Combined with lights, mirrors, toner, and heat, this mineral can create almost identical replicas of documents.

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Selenium is also sometimes used in ceramic manufacturing. One of the uses of selenium is the making of pigments. Depending on how much of this mineral is used, orange- to red-colored glazes can be made to cover ceramic pieces. Selenium may also be used to add color to some plastics.

The human body needs a certain amount of selenium to stay healthy. Selenium can typically be found in soil or water, and it can also be found in certain foods. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of this mineral, but tuna fish and beef also contain decent amounts of selenium. Unfortunately, some regions around the world, like China, do not have enough selenium.

Individuals who do not get enough selenium in their diets may be at risk of developing selenium deficiencies. A person with a selenium deficiency may then develop a condition known as hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough hormones. This medical condition can lead to other health problems, including heart problems and a weak immune system. Major uses of selenium also include the manufacturing of selenium supplements, which can help individuals with selenium deficiencies.

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