Strontium is a chemical element with symbol Sr and atomic number 38. An alkaline earth metal, strontium is a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element that is highly reactive chemically. The metal turns yellow when it is exposed to air. Strontium has physical and chemical properties similar to those of its two neighbors calcium and barium. It occurs naturally in the minerals celestine, putnisite and strontianite. While natural strontium is stable, the synthetic 90Sr isotope is present in radioactive fallout and has a half-life of 28.90 years.
Both strontium and strontianite are named after Strontian, a village in Scotland near which the mineral was discovered in 1790 by Adair Crawford and William Cruickshank. The production of sugar from sugar beet was in the 19th century its largest application (see strontian process). At the peak of production of television cathode ray tubes, up to 75 percent of U.S. strontium consumption was used to make the faceplate glass. With the displacement of cathode ray tubes by other display methods in television sets, consumption of strontium has dramatically declined.