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Any of six nonmetallic elementsfluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, astatine, and element 117with similar chemical properties. They occur in the second rightmost column of the periodic table as usually arranged. All are highly reactive oxidizing agents (seeoxidation-reduction) with valence 1 (for fluorine, the only valence). They combine readily with most metals and nonmetals to form a variety of compounds and never occur uncombined in nature. A radioactive element, astatine occurs naturally in minute amounts as an intermediate decay product; it has no stable nonradioactive isotopes. Only a few atoms of element 117 have been artificially produced, and it is not found in nature. Halogen salts formed with metal atoms (halides) are very stable; sodium chloride is the most familiar. The halogen lamp takes its name from the halogens included in the gas within its tungsten-filament bulb, added to prolong filament life and increase brightness.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on halogen, visit Britannica.com.