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Europium is a soft silvery metal, both are and expensive. It is the most reactive of the lanthanide group: it tarnishes quickly in air at room temperature, burns at about 150°C to 180°C and reacts readily with water.
Europium is a neutron absorber, so it is used in nuclear reactors control rods. Europium phosphors are used in television tubes to give a bright red colour and as an activator for yttrium-based phosphors. For powerful street lighting a little europium is added to mercury vapour lamps to give a more natural light. A salt of europium is used for newer phosphorescent powder and paints.