by Rob Lavinsky / Chinese stibnite find, 2010

Antimony is a metal used in the production of lead-acid batteries, microelectronics, fire retardants and long ago, was the “kohl” of ancient world cosmetics.  The name comes from the Latin antimonium, which is speculated to mean either “monk-killer”, because early metal workers were monks, and antimony is poisonous, or “anti-aloneness,” because the element is usually found as an alloy.  The “Sb” symbol was arrived at from the name for the beautiful but poisonous mineral stibnite (antimony sulfide).

According to Wikipedia, Antimony is ranked as an at-risk element in terms of global supply.  Most of today’s antimony is mined in China, though production is scaling back in an effort to clean up their environment.  Antimony is rated as a top-20 element required for maintaining current lifestyles.  Global supply is estimated to be “depleted” in thirteen years, according to the USGS.

Maine has several antimony deposits.  Antimony sightings have been reported at potential mining sites in Carmel and Levant (near Bangor); near Linnaeus (Aroostook County), and Blue Hill.

Sources in the Environment:

Natural bedrock mineral.

Industrial waste from the production of bullets, flame retardants, batteries, brake pads, matches, microchips and semi-conductors, and paint.

Health Limits:

Maine Maximum Exposure Guideline limit (MEG): 0.003 mg/L or 3 ppb
USA Primary Drinking Water Standard limit (MCL): 0.006 mg/L or 6 ppb

Additional Resources:

Toxic Substances Portal: Antimony (website)

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry “Antimony” ToxFAQs Factsheet: Antimony (pdf)

Wikipedia: “Antimony”  (website)

COOL: “Stibnite” – great minerals data database with an economic slant from (website)

MEL Test Methods for Antimony

Drinking Water – EPA 200.5 Rev. 4.2 (SDWA Compliant)
Wastewater – EPA 200.7 Rev. 4.4 (NPDES Compliant)
Solids & NPW – EPA 6010C Rev. 3 (SW846) (RCRA Compliant)

Sample Requirements


Container: plastic, glass
Volume: 250mL
Hold Time: 6 months if preserved with HNO3 to pH<2, otherwise 2 weeks
Preservation: HNO3 to pH<2


Container: plastic, glass, baggie
Volume: a least 150g
Hold Time: 6 months
Preservation: n/a