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Zinc, chemical element, symbol Zn; for physical constants, see Periodic Table. Zinc ores were used for making brass centuries before zinc was recognized as a distinct element. The metal was prepared in India in the 13th century by reducing calamine with organic substances such as wool. It occurs in nature principally as sphalerite (zinc sulfide). It is produced by reduction of the oxide with carbon. Zinc is a bluish-white, lustrous, brittle, reactive metal. It is used in many important metal alloys, including bronze, Babbitt metal, and German silver. Zinc is an essential growth element for humans and animals. The uses of the metal and its compounds are numerous, including in pigments, dry cell batteries, pharmaceuticals, and television screens.

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