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Hydrogen (diatomic nonmetal)
Helium (noble gas)
Lithium (alkali metal)
Beryllium (alkaline earth metal)
Boron (metalloid)
Carbon (polyatomic nonmetal)
Nitrogen (diatomic nonmetal)
Oxygen (diatomic nonmetal)
Fluorine (diatomic nonmetal)
Neon (noble gas)
Sodium (alkali metal)
Magnesium (alkaline earth metal)
Aluminium (other metals)
Silicon (metalloid)
Phosphorus (polyatomic nonmetal)
Sulfur (polyatomic nonmetal)
Chlorine (diatomic nonmetal)
Argon (noble gas)
Potassium (alkali metal)
Calcium (alkaline earth metal)
Scandium (transition metal)
Titanium (transition metal)
Vanadium (transition metal)
Chromium (transition metal)
Manganese (transition metal)
Iron (transition metal)
Cobalt (transition metal)
Nickel (transition metal)
Copper (transition metal)
Zinc (transition metal)
Gallium (other metals)
Germanium (metalloid)
Arsenic (metalloid)
Selenium (polyatomic nonmetal)
Bromine (diatomic nonmetal)
Krypton (noble gas)
Rubidium (alkali metal)
Strontium (alkaline earth metal)
Yttrium (transition metal)
Zirconium (transition metal)
Niobium (transition metal)
Molybdenum (transition metal)
Technetium (transition metal)
Ruthenium (transition metal)
Rhodium (transition metal)
Palladium (transition metal)
Silver (transition metal)
Cadmium (transition metal)
Indium (other metals)
Tin (other metals)
Antimony (metalloid)
Tellurium (metalloid)
Iodine (diatomic nonmetal)
Xenon (noble gas)
Caesium (alkali metal)
Barium (alkaline earth metal)
Lanthanum (lanthanide)
Cerium (lanthanide)
Praseodymium (lanthanide)
Neodymium (lanthanide)
Promethium (lanthanide)
Samarium (lanthanide)
Europium (lanthanide)
Gadolinium (lanthanide)
Terbium (lanthanide)
Dysprosium (lanthanide)
Holmium (lanthanide)
Erbium (lanthanide)
Thulium (lanthanide)
Ytterbium (lanthanide)
Lutetium (lanthanide)
Hafnium (transition metal)
Tantalum (transition metal)
Tungsten (transition metal)
Rhenium (transition metal)
Osmium (transition metal)
Iridium (transition metal)
Platinum (transition metal)
Gold (transition metal)
Mercury (transition metal)
Thallium (other metals)
Lead (other metals)
Bismuth (other metals)
Polonium (other metals)
Astatine (metalloid)
Radon (noble gas)
Francium (alkali metal)
Radium (alkaline earth metal)
Actinium (actinide)
Thorium (actinide)
Protactinium (actinide)
Uranium (actinide)
Neptunium (actinide)
Plutonium (actinide)
Americium (actinide)
Curium (actinide)
Berkelium (actinide)
Californium (actinide)
Einsteinium (actinide)
Fermium (actinide)
Mendelevium (actinide)
Nobelium (actinide)
Lawrencium (actinide)
Rutherfordium (transition metal)
Dubnium (transition metal)
Seaborgium (transition metal)
Bohrium (transition metal)
Hassium (transition metal)
Meitnerium (unknown chemical properties)
Darmstadtium (unknown chemical properties)
Roentgenium (unknown chemical properties)
Copernicium (transition metal)
Ununtrium (unknown chemical properties)
Flerovium (unknown chemical properties)
Ununpentium (unknown chemical properties)
Livermorium (unknown chemical properties)
Ununseptium (unknown chemical properties)
Ununoctium (unknown chemical properties)


Fluorine in the periodic table
gas: very pale yellow
liquid: bright yellow
solid: transparent (beta), opaque (alpha)
Small sample of pale yellow liquid fluorine condensed in liquid nitrogen
Liquid fluorine at cryogenic temperatures
General properties
Name, symbol, number fluorine, F, 9
Pronunciation /ˈflʊərn/ FLUU-reen, /ˈflʊərɪn/, /ˈflɔərn/
Element category diatomic nonmetal
Group, period, block 17 (halogens), 2, p
Standard atomic weight 18.998403163(6)
Electron configuration [He] 2s2 2p51
2, 7
Physical properties
Phase gas
Density (0 °C, 101.325 kPa)
1.6962 g/L
Liquid density at b.p. 1.5053 g·cm−3
Melting point 53.48 K, −219.67 °C, −363.414 °F
Boiling point 85.03 K, −188.11 °C, −306.604 °F
Triple point 53.48 K, 904 kPa
Critical point 144.41 K, 5.17244 MPa
Heat of vaporization 6.512 kJ·mol−1
Molar heat capacity (Cp) (21.1 °C) 313 J·mol−1·K−1
(Cv) (21.1 °C) 233 J·mol−1·K−1
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 38 44 50 58 69 85
Atomic properties
Oxidation states −1
(oxidizes oxygen)
Electronegativity 3.981 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies
1st: 16815 kJ·mol−1
2nd: 33745 kJ·mol−1
3rd: 61475 kJ·mol−1
Covalent radius 646 pm
Van der Waals radius 1357 pm
Crystal structure monoclinic
Fluorine has a monoclinic base-centered crystal structure

alpha (low-temperature)8
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic (−1.2×10−4)910
Thermal conductivity 0.0259111 W·m−1·K−1
CAS registry number 7782-41-41
Naming after the mineral fluorite, itself named after Latin fluo (to flow, in smelting)
Discovery André-Marie Ampère (1810)
First isolation Henri Moissan1 (June 26, 1886)
Named by Humphry Davy
Most stable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of fluorine
iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP
18F trace 109.77 min β+ (96.9%) 0.634 18O
ε (3.1%) 1.656 18O
19F 100% 19F is stable with 10 neutrons
· references

Fluorine is a chemical element with the symbol F and atomic number 9. It is the lightest halogen and exists as a highly toxic pale yellow diatomic gas at standard conditions. As the most electronegative element, it is extremely reactive: almost all other elements, including some noble gases, form compounds with fluorine.

Fluorite, the primary mineral source of fluorine, was first described in 1529; as it was added to metal ores to lower their melting points for smelting, the Latin verb fluo meaning "flow" became associated with it. Proposed as an element in 1810, fluorine proved difficult and dangerous to separate from its compounds, and several early experimenters died or sustained injuries from their attempts. Only in 1886 did French chemist Henri Moissan isolate elemental fluorine using low-temperature electrolysis, a process still employed for modern production.

Among the elements, fluorine ranks 24th in universal abundance and 13th in terrestrial abundance. Industrial synthesis of fluorine gas for uranium enrichment, its largest application, began during the Manhattan Project in World War II. Due to the expense of refining pure fluorine, most commercial applications of the element involve the use of its compounds, with about half of mined fluorite used in steelmaking. The rest is converted into corrosive hydrogen fluoride en route to various organic fluorides, or into cryolite which plays a key role in aluminium refining. Organic fluorides have very high chemical and thermal stability; their major uses are as refrigerants, electrical insulation and cookware, the last as PTFE. Pharmaceuticals such as atorvastatin and fluoxetine also contain fluorine, and the fluoride ion inhibits dental cavities, and so finds use in toothpaste and water fluoridation. Global fluorochemical sales amount to over US$15 billion a year.

Fluorocarbon gases are generally greenhouse gases with global-warming potentials 100 to 20,000 times that of carbon dioxide. Organofluorine compounds persist in the environment due to the strength of the carbon–fluorine bond, with an uncertain potential impact on health. Fluorine has no known metabolic role in mammals; a few plants and bacteria synthesize organofluorine poisons to deter herbivores.


Electron configuration

Two concentric rings showing valence and non-valence electron shells
Simplified structure of the fluorine atom

Fluorine atoms have nine electrons, one fewer than neon, and electron configuration 1s22s22p5: two electrons in a filled inner shell and seven in an outer shell requiring one more to be filled. The outer electrons are ineffective at nuclear shielding, and experience a high effective nuclear charge of 9 − 2 = 7; this affects the atom's physical properties.1

Fluorine's first ionization energy is third-highest among all elements, behind helium and neon,13 which complicates the removal of electrons from neutral fluorine atoms. It also has a high electron affinity, second only to chlorine,14 and tends to capture an electron to become isoelectronic with the noble gas neon;1 it has the highest electronegativity of any element.15 Fluorine atoms have a small covalent radius of around 60 picometers, similar to those of its period neighbors oxygen and neon.1617note 1


The bond energy of difluorine is much lower than that of either Cl
or Br
and is similar to that of the weak peroxide bond; this accounts for its high reactivity1819 and easy dissociation. Conversely, bonds to other atoms are very strong because of fluorine's high electronegativity. Unreactive substances like powdered steel, glass fragments, and asbestos fibers react quickly with cold fluorine gas; wood and water spontaneously combust under a fluorine jet.220

External video
Bright flames during fluorine reactions
Fluorine reacting with caesium

Reactions of elemental fluorine with metals require varying conditions. Alkali metals cause explosions and alkaline earth metals display vigorous activity in bulk; to prevent passivation from the formation of metal fluoride layers most other metals such as aluminium and iron must be powdered,18 and noble metals require pure fluorine gas at 300–450 °C (575–850 °F).21 Metalloids and some solid nonmetals (sulfur, phosphorus, and selenium) burn with a flame in room temperature fluorine.2223 Hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide combine readily with fluorine, the latter sometimes explosively; sulfuric acid exhibits much less activity.22

Hydrogen, like the alkali metals, reacts explosively with fluorine.24 Carbon, as lamp black, reacts at room temperature to yield fluoromethane. Graphite combines with fluorine above 400 °C (750 °F) to produce non-stoichiometric carbon monofluoride; higher temperatures generate gaseous fluorocarbons, sometimes with explosions.25 Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide react at or just above room temperature,26 whereas paraffins and other organic chemicals generate strong reactions:27 even fully substituted haloalkanes such as carbon tetrachloride, normally incombustible, may explode.28 Although nitrogen trifluoride is stable, nitrogen requires an electric discharge at elevated temperatures for reaction due to its very strong triple bond;29 ammonia may react explosively.3031 Oxygen does not combine with fluorine under ambient conditions, but can be made to using electric discharge at low temperatures and pressures; the products tend to disintegrate into their constituent elements when heated.323334 Heavier halogens35 and radon36 react readily with fluorine; the lighter noble gases xenon and krypton require special conditions.37


Main article: Phases of fluorine
Cube with spherical shapes on the corners and center and spinning molecules in planes in faces
Crystal structure of β-fluorine. Spheres indicate F
molecules that may assume any angle. Other molecules are constrained to planes.

At room temperature, fluorine is a gas of diatomic molecules,2 pale yellow when pure (but sometimes described as yellow-green)38 and has a characteristic pungent odor detectable at 20 ppb.39 Fluorine condenses into a bright yellow liquid at −188 °C (−306 °F), a similar transition temperature to those of oxygen and nitrogen.40

Fluorine has two solid forms, α- and β-fluorine. The latter crystallizes at −220 °C (−364 °F) and is transparent and soft, with the same disordered cubic structure of freshly crystallized solid oxygen,40note 2 unlike the orthorhombic systems of other solid halogens.844 Further cooling to −228 °C (−378 °F) induces a phase transition into opaque and hard α-fluorine, which has a monoclinic structure with dense, angled layers of molecules. The transition from β- to α-fluorine is more exothermic than the condensation of fluorine, and can be violent.844note 3


Main article: Isotopes of fluorine

Only one isotope of fluorine occurs naturally, the stable 19
that has ten neutrons.45 It has a high magnetogyric rationote 4 and exceptional sensitivity to magnetic fields; because it is also the only stable isotope, it is used in magnetic resonance imaging.47 Seventeen radioisotopes with mass numbers from 14 to 31 have been synthesized, of which 18
is the most stable with a half-life of 109.77 minutes. Other radioisotopes have half-lives less than 70 seconds; most decay in less than half a second.48 The isotopes 17
and 18
undergo β+ decay, lighter isotopes decay via electron capture, and those heavier than 19
undergo β decay or neutron emission.48 One metastable isomer of fluorine is known, 18m
with a half-life of 234 nanoseconds.49



Solar System abundances50
Element Relative
6 Carbon 4,800
7 Nitrogen 1,500
8 Oxygen 8,800
9 Fluorine 1
10 Neon 1,400
11 Sodium 24
12 Magnesium 430

Given lighter elements show greater abundances, fluorine's value of 400 ppb – 24th among elements in the universe – is exceptional: other elements from carbon to magnesium are twenty or more times as common.51 This is because stellar nucleosynthesis processes bypass fluorine and any such atoms otherwise created have high nuclear cross sections, allowing further fusion with hydrogen or helium to generate oxygen or neon respectively.5152

Beyond this transient existence, three explanatory theories have been proposed for the presence of fluorine:5153


Fluorine is the thirteenth most common element in Earth's crust at 600–700 ppm by mass.54 Elemental fluorine in Earth's atmosphere would easily react with rocks, precluding its natural occurrence;5556 it is found only in combined mineral forms, of which fluorite, fluorapatite and cryolite are the most industrially significant.5758 Fluorite or fluorspar (CaF
), colorful and abundant worldwide, is fluorine's main source; China and Mexico are the major suppliers. The U.S. led extraction in the early 20th century but ceased mining in 1995.5859606162 Although fluorapatite (Ca5(PO4)3F) contains most of the world's fluorine, its low mass fraction of 3.5% means that most of it is used as a phosphate. In the U.S. small quantities of fluorine compounds are obtained via fluorosilicic acid, a phosphate industry byproduct.58 Cryolite (Na
), once used directly in aluminium production, is the rarest and most concentrated of these three minerals. The main commercial mine on Greenland's west coast closed in 1987, and most cryolite is now synthesized.58

Major fluorine-containing minerals
Pink globular mass with crystal facets Long prism-like crystal, without luster, at an angle coming out of aggregate-like rock A parallelogram-shaped outline with space-filling diatomic molecules (joined circles) arranged in two layers
Fluorite Fluorapatite Cryolite

Other minerals such as topaz contain fluorine. Fluorides, unlike other halides, are insoluble and do not occur in commercially favorable concentrations in saline waters.58 Trace quantities of organofluorines of uncertain origin have been detected in volcanic eruptions and geothermal springs.63 The existence of gaseous fluorine in crystals, suggested by the smell of crushed antozonite, is contentious;6465 a 2012 study reported the presence of 0.04% F
by weight in antozonite, attributing these inclusions to radiation from the presence of tiny amounts of uranium.65


Main article: History of fluorine

Early discoveries

Woodcut image showing man at open hearth with tongs and machine bellows to the side in background, man at water-operated hammer with quenching sluice nearby in foreground
Steelmaking illustration from De re metallica

In 1529, Georgius Agricola described fluorite as an additive used to lower the melting point of metals during smelting.6667note 5 He penned the Latin word fluorés (fluo, flow) for fluorite rocks. The name later evolved into fluorspar (still commonly used) and then fluorite.597172 The composition of fluorite was later determined to be calcium difluoride.73

Hydrofluoric acid was used in glass etching from 1720 onwards.note 6 Andreas Sigismund Marggraf first characterized it in 1764 when he heated fluorite with sulfuric acid, and the resulting solution corroded its glass container.7576 Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele repeated the experiment in 1771, and named the acidic product fluss-spats-syran (fluorspar acid).7677 In 1810, the French physicist André-Marie Ampère suggested that hydrogen and an element analogous to chlorine constituted hydrofluoric acid.78 Sir Humphry Davy proposed that this then-unknown substance be named fluorine from fluoric acid and the -ine suffix of other halogens. This word, with modifications, is used in most European languages; Greek, Russian, and some others (following Ampère's suggestion) use the name ftor or derivatives, from the Greek φθόριος (phthorios, destructive) .7980 The New Latin name fluorum gave the element its current symbol F; Fl was used in early papers.81note 7


Initial studies on fluorine were so dangerous that several 19th century experimenters were deemed "fluorine martyrs" on account of their misfortunes with hydrofluoric acid.note 8 Isolation of elemental fluorine was hindered by the extreme corrosiveness of both it and hydrogen fluoride, as well as the lack of a simple and suitable electrolyte.7382 Edmond Frémy postulated that electrolysis of pure hydrofluoric acid to generate fluorine was feasible and devised a method to produce anhydrous samples from acidified potassium bifluoride; instead, he discovered that the resulting (dry) hydrogen floride did not conduct.738283 Frémy's former student Henri Moissan persevered, and after much trial and error found that a mixture of potassium bifluoride and dry hydrogen fluoride was a conductor, enabling electrolysis. To prevent rapid corrosion of the platinum in his electrochemical cells, he cooled the reaction to extremely low temperatures in a special bath and forged cells from a more resistant mixture of platinum and iridium, and used fluorite stoppers.8284 In 1886, after 74 years of effort, Moissan isolated elemental fluorine.8385

In 1906, two months before his death, Moissan received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry,86 with the following citation:82

... in recognition of the great services rendered by him in his investigation and isolation of the element fluorine ... The whole world has admired the great experimental skill with which you have studied that savage beast among the elements.note 9

1887 drawing of Moissan's apparatus Nobel Prize photo of Moissan

Later uses

An ampoule of uranium hexafluoride or hex

The Frigidaire division of General Motors experimented with chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants in the late 1920s, and Kinetic Chemicals was formed as a joint venture between GM and DuPont in 1930 hoping to market Freon-12 (CCl
) as one such refrigerant. It replaced earlier and more toxic compounds, increased demand for kitchen refrigerators, and became profitable; by 1949 DuPont had bought out Kinetic and marketed several other Freon compounds.87768889 Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) was serendipitously discovered in 1938 by Roy J. Plunkett while working on refrigerants at Kinetic, and its superlative chemical and thermal resistance lent it to accelerated commercialization and mass production by 1941.877688

Elemental fluorine's large-scale synthesis began during World War II. Germany used high-temperature electrolysis to make tons of the planned incendiary chlorine trifluoride90 and the Manhattan Project used huge quantities to produce uranium hexafluoride for uranium enrichment. Since UF
is as corrosive as fluorine, gaseous diffusion plants required special materials: nickel for membranes, fluoropolymers for seals, and liquid fluorocarbons as coolants and lubricants. This burgeoning nuclear industry later drove post-war fluorochemical development.91


Main article: Compounds of fluorine

Fluorine has a rich chemistry, encompassing both organic and inorganic domains, and combines with metals, nonmetals and even noble gases,92note 10 and usually assumes an oxidation state of −1.note 11 Its high electron affinity leads to its preference for ionic bonding, whereas its covalent bonds are polar and almost always single.9697note 12


Graph showing water and hydrogen fluoride breaking the trend of lower boiling points for lighter molecules
Boiling points of hydrogen halides and chalcogenides, showing the unusually high values for hydrogen fluoride and water

Hydrogen and fluorine combine into hydrogen fluoride, where discrete molecules cluster through hydrogen bonds. The compound thus behaves more like water than hydrogen chloride.9899100 It boils at a much higher temperature and is fully miscible with water unlike heavier hydrogen halides.101 Hydrofluoric acid – aqueous hydrogen fluoride – is a weak acid unlike the other strong hydrohalic acids,102note 13 but is corrosive enough to attack glass.104


Alkali metals form ionic and highly soluble monofluorides with the same cubic arrangement of sodium chloride, analogous to their corresponding chlorides.105106 Alkaline earth difluorides possess strong ionic bonds as well but are insoluble81 save for beryllium difluoride, which also exhibits some covalent character and has a quartz-like structure.107 Rare earth elements and many other metals form mostly ionic trifluorides.108109110

Covalent bonding first comes to prominence in tetrafluorides: those of zirconium, hafnium111112 and several actinides113 are ionic with high melting points,114note 14 but those of titanium,117 vanadium,118 and niobium are polymeric,119 melting or decomposing around or below 350 °C (660 °F).120 Pentafluorides continue this trend with their unbranched polymers and oligomeric complexes.121122123 Thirteen metal hexafluorides are known,note 15 all octahedral, and are all volatile solids except for three: liquid MoF
and ReF
, and gaseous WF
.124125126 Rhenium heptafluoride, the only characterized metal heptafluoride, is a low-melting molecular solid with pentagonal bipyramidal molecular geometry.127 Metal fluorides with more fluorine atoms are particularly reactive.128

Structural progression of metal fluorides
Checkerboard-like lattice of small blue and large yellow balls, going in three dimensions so that each ball has 6 nearest neighbors of opposite type Straight chain of alternating balls, violet and yellow, with violet ones also linked to four more yellow perpendicularly to the chain and each other Ball and stick drawing showing central violet ball with a yellow one directly above and below and then an equatorial belt of 5 surrounding yellow balls
Sodium fluoride, ionic Bismuth pentafluoride, polymeric Rhenium heptafluoride, molecular

Other reactive nonmetals

Chlorine trifluoride, whose corrosive potential ignites asbestos, concrete, sand and other fire retardants129

Binary fluorides of metalloids and p-block nonmetals are generally covalent and volatile, with varying reactivities. Period 3 and heavier nonmetals can form hypervalent fluorides.130

Boron trifluoride is planar and possesses an incomplete octet. It functions as a Lewis acid and combines with Lewis bases like ammonia to form adducts.131 Carbon tetrafluoride is tetrahedral and inert;note 16 its group analogues, silicon and germanium tetrafluoride, are also tetrahedral132 but behave as Lewis acids.133134 The pnictogens form trifluorides increasing in reactivity and basicity with higher molecular weight, although nitrogen trifluoride resists hydrolysis and is not basic.135 Phosphorus, arsenic, and antimony form pentafluorides more reactive than their respective trifluorides, with antimony pentafluoride the strongest neutral Lewis acid known.121136137

Chalcogens have diverse fluorides: unstable difluorides have been reported for oxygen (the only known compound with oxygen at oxidation state +2), sulfur, and selenium, and tetrafluorides and hexafluorides exist for sulfur, selenium, and tellurium. They are stabilized by more fluorine atoms and lighter central atoms, so sulfur hexafluoride is especially inert.138139 Chlorine, bromine, and iodine can each form mono-, tri-, and pentafluorides, but only iodine heptafluoride has been characterized among possible interhalogen heptafluorides.140 Many of them are powerful sources of fluorine atoms, and chlorine trifluoride's industrial applications require similar precautions to those for fluorine gas.141142

Noble gases

Main article: Noble gas compound
Black-and-white photo showing transparent crystals in a dish
These xenon tetrafluoride crystals were photographed in 1962. Its synthesis, as with xenon hexafluoroplatinate, surprised many chemists.143

Noble gases, having complete electron shells, defied reaction with other elements until 1962 when Neil Bartlett reported synthesis of xenon hexafluoroplatinate;144 xenon difluoride, tetrafluoride, hexafluoride and multiple oxyfluorides have been isolated since then.145146 Among other noble gases, krypton forms a difluoride,147 and radon and fluorine generate a solid suspected to be radon difluoride.148149 Binary fluorides of lighter noble gases are exceptionally unstable: argon and hydrogen fluoride combine under extreme conditions to argon fluorohydride.37 Helium and neon have no long-lived fluorides,150 and no neon fluoride has ever been observed;151 helium fluorohydride has been detected for milliseconds at high pressures and low temperatures.150

Organic compounds

Beaker with two layers of liquid, goldfish and crab in top, coin sunk in the bottom
Immiscible layers of colored water (top) and much denser perfluoroheptane (bottom) in a beaker; a goldfish and crab cannot penetrate the boundary. Quarters rest at the base.
Skeletal chemical formula
Chemical structure of Nafion, a fluoropolymer used in fuel cells and many other applications.152

The carbon–fluorine bond is organic chemistry's strongest,153 and gives stability to organofluorines.154 It is almost non-existent in nature, but is used in artificial compounds whose research is usually driven by commercial applications;155 these compounds are diverse and reflect the complexity inherent in organic chemistry.87

Discrete molecules

The substitution of hydrogen atoms in an alkane by more and more fluorine atoms gradually alters several properties: melting and boiling points are lowered, density increases, solubility in hydrocarbons decreases and overall stability increases. Perfluorocarbons,note 17 where all hydrogen atoms are substituted, are insoluble in most organic solvents, reacting at ambient conditions only with sodium in liquid ammonia.156

The term perfluorinated compound is used for what would otherwise be perfluorocarbons if not for a functional group,157note 18 often a carboxylic acid. These compounds share many properties with perfluorocarbons such as stability and hydrophobicity,159 while the functional group augments their reactivity, enabling them to adhere to surfaces or act as a surfactant;160 in particular, fluorosurfactants can lower water's surface tension more than hydrocarbon-based analogues. Fluorotelomers, which have some carbon atoms near the functional group unfluorinated, are also regarded as perfluorinated.159


Polymers exhibit the same stability increases afforded by fluorine substitution for hydrogen as discrete molecules, but their melting points are generally increased as well.161 Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the simplest fluoropolymer and perfluoro analogue of polyethylene with structural unitCF
–, demonstrates this change as expected, but its very high melting point makes them difficult to mold.162 Various PTFE derivatives are less temperature-tolerant but easier to mold: fluorinated ethylene propylene replaces some fluorine atoms with trifluoromethyl groups, perfluoroalkoxy alkanes do the same with trifluoromethoxy groups162 and Nafion contains perfluoroether side chains capped with sulfonic acid groups.163164 Other fluoropolymers retain some hydrogen atoms; polyvinylidene fluoride has half the fluorine atoms of PTFE and polyvinyl fluoride has a quarter, but both behave much like perfluorinated polymers.165



A machine room
Industrial fluorine cells at Preston

Modern industrial F
production performs the same potassium fluoride/hydrogen fluoride electrolysis of Moissan with different apparatus: hydrogen and fluoride ions are reduced and oxidized at the steel container cathode and carbon block anode under 8–12 volts to hydrogen and fluorine gas respectively.60166 Temperatures are also elevated, KF•2HF melting at 70 °C (158 °F) and electrolyzed at 70–130 °C (158–266 °F); because pure HF cannot be electrolyzed, KF is essential though catalytic.76167168 F
may be stored in steel cylinders with passivated interiors below 200 °C (392 °F), whereas nickel is required otherwise.76169 Regulator valves and pipework are made of nickel, the latter possibly using Monel instead,170 and frequent passivation along with strict exclusion of water and greases must be undertaken. In the laboratory, glassware may carry fluorine gas under low pressure and anhydrous conditions170 but some sources recommend nickel-Monel-PTFE systems instead.171


While preparing for a 1986 conference to celebrate the centennial of Moissan's achievement, Karl O. Christe reasoned that chemical fluorine generation should be feasible since some metal fluoride anions have no stable neutral counterparts, their acidification potentially triggering oxidation instead. He devised a method which evolves fluorine at high yield and atmospheric pressure:172

2 KMnO4 + 2 KF + 10 HF + 3 H2O2 → 2 K2MnF6 + 8 H2O + 3 O2
2 K2MnF6 + 4 SbF5 → 4 KSbF6 + 2 MnF3 + F2

Christe later commented that the reactants "had been known for more than 100 years and even Moissan could have come up with this scheme."173 As late as 2006, some references still asserted that fluorine was too reactive for any chemical isolation.174

Industrial applications

Fluorite mining, which supplies most global fluorine, peaked in 1989 when 5.6 million metric tons of ore were extracted. Chlorofluorocarbon restrictions lowered this to 3.6 million tons in 1994, but production has been increasing since; around 4.5 million tons of ore and US$550 million revenue were generated in 2003, and later reports estimated 2011 global fluorochemical sales at US$15 billion and predicted 2016–18 production figures of 3.5 to 5.9 million tons with at least a US$20 billion revenue.76175176177178 Froth flotation concentrates mined fluorite into two main grades of equal proportion: 60–85% pure metspar is almost all used in iron smelting whereas 97%+ pure acidspar is mainly converted to the key industrial intermediate hydrogen fluoride.6076179

Fluorite Fluorapatite Hydrogen fluoride Metal smelting Glass production Fluorocarbons Sodium hexafluoroaluminate Pickling (metal) Fluorosilicic acid Alkane cracking Hydrofluorocarbon Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Chlorofluorocarbon Teflon Water fluoridation Uranium enrichment Sulfur hexafluoride Tungsten hexafluoride Phosphogypsum
Clickable diagram of the fluorochemical industry according to mass flows.
Minaret-like electrical devices with wires around them, thicker at at the bottom
transformers at a Russian railway
See also: Industrial gas

At least 17,000 metric tons of fluorine are produced per year. It costs only US$5–8 per kilogram as uranium or sulfur hexafluoride, but handling challenges multiply its price as an element, and most processes that use the latter in large amounts employ in situ generation under vertical integration.180

The largest application of the gas, consuming up to 7,000 metric tons annually, is the preparation of UF
for the nuclear fuel cycle where it fluorinates uranium tetrafluoride formed from uranium dioxide and hydrofluoric acid.180 Fluorine's monoisotopic nature puts any mass differences between UF
molecules down to the presence of 235
or 238
, enabling uranium enrichment via diffusion or centrifuge.260 About 6,000 metric tons per year go into producing the excellent and inert dielectric SF
for high-voltage transformers and circuit breakers, eliminating hazardous polychlorinated biphenyls associated with oil-filled devices.181 Electronics employs several compounds made from elemental fluorine: rhenium and tungsten hexafluoride in chemical vapor deposition, tetrafluoromethane in plasma etching182183184 and nitrogen trifluoride in cleaning equipment.60 Some organic fluorides' syntheses also use F
, but its reactivity often predicates conversion first to the gentler ClF
, BrF
, and IF
which together allow calibrated fluorination, and fluorinated pharmaceuticals use sulfur tetrafluoride instead.60

Inorganic fluorides

Aluminium extraction depends critically on cryolite.

As with other iron alloys, around 3 kg (6.5 lb) metspar is added to each metric ton of steel, the fluoride ions provided lowering its melting point and viscosity.60185 Alongside its role as an additive to materials like enamels and welding rod coats, most acidspar is reacted with sulfuric acid to form hydrofluoric acid, used straight in steel pickling, glass etching and alkane cracking.60 One-third of HF goes into synthesizing cryolite and aluminium trifluoride, both fluxes in the Hall–Héroult process for aluminium extraction; replenishment is necessitated by their occasional reactions with the smelting apparatus and each metric ton of aluminium requires about 23 kg (51 lb) of flux.60186 Fluorosilicates consume the second largest portion, with sodium fluorosilicate used in water fluoridation and laundry effluent treatment, as well as an intermediate en route to cryolite and silicon tetrafluoride.187 Other important inorganic fluorides include those of cobalt, nickel, and ammonium.60106188

Organic fluorides

Organofluorides consume over 20% of mined fluorite and over 40% of hydrofluoric acid, with refrigerant gases dominating and fluoropolymers increasing their market share.60189 Surfactants are a minor application but generate over US$1 billion in annual revenue.190 Due to the danger from direct hydrocarbon–fluorine reactions above −150 °C (−240 °F), industrial fluorocarbon production is indirect, mostly through halogen exchange reactions such as Swarts fluorination where chlorocarbon chlorines are substituted for fluorines by hydrogen fluoride under catalysts. Electrochemical fluorination subjects hydrocarbons to electrolysis in hydrogen fluoride, and the Fowler process treats them with solid fluorine carriers like cobalt trifluoride.87191

Refrigerant gases

See also: Refrigerant

Halogenated refrigerants, termed Freons in informal contexts,note 19 are identified by R-numbers which have an R prefix before stating the amount of fluorine, chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen present.60192 Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) like R-11, R-12, and R-114 once dominated organofluorines, their production peaking in the 1980s and directed at air conditioning systems, propellant and solvent use; by the early 2000s, after their widespread international prohibition, production was below one-tenth of this peak.60 Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are designed as replacements; their synthesis consumes more than 90% of the fluorine in the organic industry. Important HCFCs include R-22, chlorodifluoromethane, and R-141b. The main HFC is R-134a60 with HFO-1234yf coming to prominence owing to its global warming potential of less than 1% that of HFC-134a.193


SEM image with islands of white and interconnecting strings
Gore-Tex electron microscope image showing polymer islands connected by strands194
Shiny spherical drop of water on blue cloth
Fluorosurfactant-treated fabrics are often hydrophobic.
Main article: Fluoropolymer

About 180,000 metric tons of fluoropolymers and over US$3.5 billion revenue per year were made in 2006–2007,195 and the global market was estimated at just under US$6 billion in 2011. It was predicted to grow by 6.5% per year up to 2016.196 Fluoropolymers can only be formed by polymerizing free radicals.161

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), sometimes called by its DuPont name Teflon,197 represents 60–80% by mass of the world's fluoropolymer production.195 Its dielectric properties enable its largest application as electrical insulation, and its inertness allows an additional use lining industrial pipes, tubing, and gaskets requiring this property, and coating fiberglass cloth for stadium roofs; non-stick cookware is a major consumer application.197 Jerked PTFE film becomes expanded PTFE (ePTFE), a fine-pored membrane sometimes referred to by the brand name Gore-Tex and used for rainwear, protective apparel, and filters; fibers may be made into seals and dust filters.197 Other fluoropolymers, including the second-most produced fluorinated ethylene propylene, mimic PTFE's properties and can substitute for it but are more moldable, albeit with higher prices and lower thermal stability. Unlike fluoropolymer film pairs replace glass in solar cells.197198

The expensive yet resistant fluorinated ionomers are used as electrochemical cell membranes, of which the first and most prominent example is Nafion. Developed in the 1960s, it was first deployed in spacecraft and then replaced mercury-based chloralkali process cells, and later in proton exchange membrane fuel cells for vehicles.199200201 Fluoroelastomers such as Viton are crosslinked fluoropolymer mixtures mainly used in O-rings;197 perfluorobutane (C4F10) is used as a fire-extinguishing agent.202


Fluorosurfactants are small organofluorine molecules used for repelling water and stains. Although expensive (US$200–2000 per kilogram) compared to pharmaceuticals, they produced over US$1 billion in annual revenue by 2006; Scotchgard generated over US$300 million alone in 2000.190203204 They are a minority within the entire and much cheaper hydrocarbon-predominant surfactant market as possible applications like paints are burdened by compounding costs; this use was valued at only US$100 million in 2006.190


A 1080 warning in New Zealand

About 30% of agrichemicals contain fluorine,205 most of them herbicides and fungicides with a few crop regulators. Though often no more complex than trifluoromethylation, fluorination is a robust modification with effects analogous to fluorinated pharmaceuticals;206 an example is trifluralin, with large-scale use against weeds in the U.S.,206207 but it is a suspected carcinogen and many European countries have banned it.208 Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) is a mammalian poison where two acetic acid hydrogens are replaced with fluorine and sodium, halting cell metabolism by replacing citric acid cycle acetate. First synthesized in the late 19th century, it was recognized as an insecticide in the early 20th, and was later deployed in its current use. Its largest consumer New Zealand uses it to protect kiwis from the invasive Australian common brushtail possum.209 Europe and the U.S. have banned 1080.210211note 20

Medicinal applications

Dental care

Man holding plastic tray with brown material in it and sticking a small stick into a boy's open mouth
Topical fluoride treatment in Panama

Population studies from the mid-20th century onwards show topical fluoride reduces dental caries. This was first explained as converting tooth enamel hydroxyapatite into the more durable fluorapatite, but studies on pre-fluoridated teeth refuted that and current theories involve fluoride aiding enamel growth in small caries.212 After studies of children in areas where fluoride was naturally present in drinking water, controlled public water supply fluoridation against tooth decay213 began in the 1940s and is now applied to water supplying 6% of the global population, including two-thirds of Americans.214215 Despite the best evidence indicating no side effects other than mostly benign dental fluorosis,216 2000 and 2007 meta-analyses demonstrating significant effects217 and public endorsement, opposition still exists218 on ethical and safety grounds;215 the benefits have lessened, possibly due to other fluoride sources, but are still measurable in poorer people.219 Sodium monofluorophosphate and sometimes sodium or tin(II) fluoride are often found in fluoride toothpastes, first introduced in the U.S. in 1955 and now ubiquitous in developed countries alongside fluoridated mouthwashes, gels, foams, and varnishes.219220


Capsules with "Prozac" and "DISTA" visible
A 2008 meta-analysis of Fluoxetine (pictured) and three other antidepressants concluded that their efficacy, though statistically significant, was clinically insignificant "for any but the most severely depressed patients".221

20% of modern pharmaceuticals contain fluorine, which as a substituent can improve induced fit with target proteins or extend half-lives by protecting against metabolic enzymes.222 Atorvastatin made more revenue than any other drug until it became generic in 2011223 and the combination asthma prescription Seretide contains fluticasone among its two active ingredients.224 One fluorine atom can alter pharmacokinetics, and many drugs are fluorinated to delay inactivation and lengthen dosage periods because the carbon–fluorine bond is very stable.225 Fluorination also increases lipophilicity because the bond is more hydrophobic than the carbon–hydrogen bond, which often helps in cell membrane penetration and hence bioavailability.224

Tricyclics and other pre-1980s antidepressants had several side effects due to their nonselective interference with neurotransmitters other than the serotonin target; the fluorinated fluoxetine was selective and one of the first to avoid this problem. Many current antidepressants receive this same treatment, including the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors citalopram, its isomer escitalopram, fluvoxamine, and paroxetine.226227 Quinolones are artificial broad-spectrum antibiotics that are often fluorinated to enhance their effects. These include ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin.228229230231 Fluorine also finds use in steroids:232 fludrocortisone is a blood pressure-raising mineralocorticoid; triamcinolone and dexamethasone are strong glucocorticoids.233 The majority of inhaled anesthetics are heavily fluorinated; the prototype halothane is much more inert and potent than its contemporaries. Later compounds such as the fluorinated ethers sevoflurane and desflurane are better than halothane and are almost insoluble in blood, allowing faster waking times.234235

PET scanning

Rotating transparent image of a human figure with targeted organs highlighted
A full-body 18
PET scan

Fluorine-18 is often found in radioactive tracers for positron emission tomography, as its half-life of almost two hours allows its transport from production facilities to imaging centers.236 The most common tracer is fluorodeoxyglucose236 which after intravenous injection is taken up by glucose-requiring tissues such as the brain and most malignant tumors,237 whereby computer-assisted tomography can then be used for detailed imaging.238

Oxygen carriers

Liquid fluorocarbons can hold large volumes of oxygen or carbon dioxide, more so than blood, and have attracted attention as respiratory media.239 As blood transfusion demand exceeds supply, such less cumbersome substitutes have been studied, although they must often be emulsified for this use as they are immiscible;240241 the substitute Oxycyte has passed initial clinical trials.242243 These substances can aid endurance athletes and are banned from sports, with one cyclist's 1998 near death prompting investigation into their abuse.244245 Applications of pure perfluorocarbon liquid breathing include assisting burn victims and premature babies with deficient lungs. Complete and partial lung filling have been considered, though only animal tests and human trials of the former paradigm have been done thoroughly.246 An Alliance Pharmaceuticals effort reached clinical trials but was abandoned due to inconclusive results.247

Biological role

The gifblaar is one of the few organofluorine-synthesizing organisms.

Fluorine is not essential for mammals and fluorine deficiency pertains only to artificial diets as many environmental sources supply trace fluorine, though evidence suggests that trace amounts can strengthen bones.248249 Natural organofluorines have been found in microorganisms and plants63 but not animals,250 of which the most common is fluoroacetate, used to defend against herbivores by at least 40 plants in Africa, Australia and Brazil.210 Other examples include terminally fluorinated fatty acids, fluoroacetone, and 2-fluorocitrate.250 Adenosyl-fluoride synthase, which binds fluorine to carbon, was isolated from bacteria in 2002.251


4 diagonal placards with warnings, poison, corrosive, inhalant, oxidant
U.S. hazard signs for commercially transported fluorine252

Elemental fluorine is highly toxic to living organisms. Its effects in humans start at concentrations lower than hydrogen cyanide's 50 ppm (parts per million)253 and are similar to chlorine:254 Significant irritation of the eyes and respiratory system as well as liver and kidney damage occur above 25 ppm. Eyes and noses are seriously damaged at 100 ppm,255 and inhalation of 1,000 ppm fluorine will cause death in minutes,256 compared to 270 ppm for hydrogen cyanide.257

Hydrofluoric acid

left and right hands, two views, burned index fingers
Hydrofluoric acid burns may not be evident for a day, after which calcium treatments are less effective.258
See also: Chemical burn

Hydrofluoric acid is a contact poison with greater hazards than many strong acids like sulfuric acid even though it is weak: it remains neutral in aqueous solution and thus penetrates tissue faster, whether through inhalation, ingestion or the skin, and at least nine U.S. workers died in such accidents from 1984 to 1994. It reacts with calcium and magnesium in the blood and imbalances them, leading to hypocalcemia and possible death through cardiac arrhythmia.259 Insoluble calcium fluoride formation triggers strong pain260 and burns larger than 160 cm2 (25 in2) can cause serious systemic toxicity.261

Exposure may not be evident for 8 hours for 50% HF, rising to 24 hours for lower concentrations, and a burn may initially be painless as hydrogen fluoride affects nerve function. If it has been noticed, it should first be rinsed under a jet of water for 10–15 minutes to prevent further damage and any clothing worn should be removed.262 Calcium gluconate is often applied next, providing calcium ions to bind with fluoride; skin burns can be treated with 2.5% calcium gluconate gel or special rinsing solutions.263264265 Such HF absorption requires further medical treatment and calcium gluconate may also be injected; calcium chloride is contraindicated and may cause severe complications. Excision or amputation of affected parts may be needed.261266

Fluoride ion

Soluble fluorides are moderately toxic with 5–10 g sodium fluoride, or 32–64 mg fluoride ions per kilogram of body mass, a lethal dose for adults.267 One-fifth of this can cause adverse health effects268 and chronic excess consumption may lead to skeletal fluorosis which affects millions in Asia and Africa.268269 Ingested fluoride forms hydrofluoric acid in the stomach which is then easily absorbed by the intestines, where it crosses cell membranes, binds with calcium and interferes with various enzymes before its urinary excretion. Urine testing of the body's ability to clear fluoride ions sets exposure limits.268270

A former major cause of fluoride poisoning was the accidental ingestion of insecticides with inorganic fluorides.271 Most current cases involve fluoride toothpaste swallowing.268 Malfunctioning water fluoridation equipment is another cause; one incident in Alaska affected almost 300 people and killed one.272 Dangers from toothpaste are aggravated for small children, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends supervising children below six brushing their teeth so they do not swallow toothpaste.273 One regional study examined a year of pre-teen fluoride poisoning reports totaling 87 cases, including one death from ingesting insecticide. The rest were all from dental fluoride and most had no symptoms, but about 30% had stomach pains whose likeliness correlated with fluoride consumption.271 A larger, similar study across the U.S. agreed; 80% of cases involved children under six and few were serious, though several hundred each year required special treatment.274

Environmental concerns


Animation showing colored representation of ozone distribution by year above North America in 6 steps. It starts with a lot of ozone but by 2060 is all gone.
NASA projection of stratospheric ozone over North America without the Montreal Protocol275

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, set strict regulations on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromofluorocarbons due to their ozone damaging potential (ODP): their high stability which suited them to their original applications also meant that they decomposed at high altitudes where liberated chlorine and bromine atoms attacked ozone molecules.276 Even with this and early indications of its efficiacy, predictions warned that several generations would pass before full recovery.277278 With one-tenth the ODP of CFCs, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are current replacements,279 themselves first scheduled for substitution by 2030–2040 by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with no chlorine and zero ODP.280 In 2007 this date was brought forward to 2020;281 the Environmental Protection Agency had already prohibited one HCFC's production and capped those of two others in 2003.280 Fluorocarbon gases are generally greenhouse gases with global-warming potentials (GWPs) of about 100 to 10,000; sulfur hexafluoride has a value of around 20,000;282 an outlier is HFO-1234yf which has attracted global demand due to its GWP of 4 compared with 1,430 for the current refrigerant standard HFC-134a.193


Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, a key Scotchgard component until 2000283

Organofluorines exhibit biopersistence due to the carbon–fluorine bond's strength and perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), sparingly water-soluble owing to their acidic functional groups, are noted persistent organic pollutants284 of which perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are most often researched.285286287 PFAAs have been found in trace quantities worldwide from polar bears to humans, with PFOS and PFOA known to reside in breast milk and newborns' blood. A 2013 review showed slight correlation between groundwater and soil PFAA levels and human activity, but no chemical dominated and PFOS and PFOA were correlated themselves.285286288 They bind in vivo to proteins such as serum albumin but are lipophobic unlike chlorocarbons and suspected to concentrate unmetabolized within humans in the liver and blood before excretion through the kidneys; their half-life depends much on species, from days in rodents to years in humans.285286289 High doses of PFOS and PFOA cause cancer and death in newborn rodents but human studies have not established an effect at current exposure levels.285286289 Other fluorochemicals also persist, like antibiotics and antidepressants in treated sewage290 and agrichemicals in farmland runoff and nearby rivers,291 since they do not biodegrade easily.290

See also


  1. ^ Sources disagree on the radii of oxygen, fluorine, and neon atoms. Precise comparison is thus impossible.
  2. ^ α-Fluorine has a regular pattern of molecules and is a crystalline solid, but its molecules do not have a specific orientation. β-Fluorine's molecules have fixed location and minimal rotational uncertainty. For further detail on α-fluorine, see the 1970 structure by Pauling.41 For further detail on the concept of disorder in crystals, see the referenced general reviews.4243
  3. ^ A loud click is heard. Samples may shatter and sample windows blow out.
  4. ^ The ratio of the angular momentum to magnetic moment is called the gyromagnetic ratio. "Certain nuclei can for many purposes be thought of as spinning round an axis like the Earth or like a top. In general the spin endows them with angular momentum and with a magnetic moment; the first because of their mass, the second because all or part of their electric charge may be rotating with the mass."46
  5. ^ Basilius Valentinus supposedly described fluorite in the late 15th century, but because his writings were uncovered 200 years later, this work's veracity is doubtful.686970
  6. ^ Or perhaps from as early as 1670 onwards;Partington74 and Weeks73 give differing accounts.
  7. ^ Fl, since 2012, is used for flerovium.
  8. ^ Davy, Gay-Lussac, Thénard, and the Irish chemists Thomas and George Knox were injured. Belgian chemist Paulin Louyet and French chemist Jérôme Nicklès died. Moissan also experienced serious hydrogen fluoride poisoning.7382
  9. ^ Also honored was his invention of the electric arc furnace.
  10. ^ 118 squares with numbers and letters in them, mostly colored gray and green, with a few numbers and words outside the boxes
    In this article antimony is included among the nonmetals (colored green) even though its chemical properties are closer to metals (colored dark gray). Separate sections are dedicated to the noble gases (light blue), hydrogen (purple), and carbon (yellow). Period 7 p-block elements, colored light gray, have not been studied and are thus excluded.
  11. ^ Fluorine in F
    is defined to have oxidation state 0. The unstable species, F
    and F
    have intermediate oxidation states which decompose at around 40 K;93 F+
    and a few related species are predicted to be stable.94 Experimental evidence for the fluoronium ion, where fluorine has oxidation state +1, was reported in 2013.95
  12. ^ The metastable boron and nitrogen monofluoride have higher-order fluorine bonds, and some metal complexes use it as a bridging ligand. Hydrogen bonding is another possibility.
  13. ^ See also the explanation by Clark.103
  14. ^ ZrF
    melts at 932 °C (1710 °F),115 HfF
    sublimes at 968 °C (1774 °F),112 and UF
    melts at 1036 °C (1897 °F).116
  15. ^ These thirteen are those of molybdenum, technetium, ruthenium, rhodium, tungsten, rhenium, osmium, iridium, platinum, polonium, uranium, neptunium and plutonium.
  16. ^ Carbon tetrafluoride is formally organic, but is included here rather than in the organofluorine chemistry section – where more complex carbon-fluorine compounds are discussed – for comparison with SiF
    and GeF
  17. ^ Perfluorocarbon and fluorocarbon are IUPAC synonyms for molecules containing carbon and fluorine only, but in colloquial and commercial contexts the latter term may refer to any carbon- and fluorine-containing molecule, possibly with other elements.
  18. ^ This terminology is imprecise, and perfluorinated substance is also used.158
  19. ^ This DuPont trademark is sometimes further misused for CFCs, HFCs, or HCFCs.
  20. ^ American sheep and cattle collars may use 1080 against predators like coyotes.


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