41 Facts About Lead


Lead is a chemical element with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82.

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Lead is soft and malleable, and has a relatively low melting point.

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Lead has the highest atomic number of any stable element and three of its isotopes are endpoints of major nuclear decay chains of heavier elements.

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Lead is toxic, even in small amounts, especially to children.

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Lead production declined after the fall of Rome and did not reach comparable levels until the Industrial Revolution.

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Lead played a crucial role in the development of the printing press, as movable type could be relatively easily cast from lead alloys.

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Lead's toxicity became widely recognized in the late 19th century, although a number of well-educated ancient Greek and Roman writers were aware of this fact and even knew some of the symptoms of lead poisoning.

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Lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates in soft tissues and bones; it damages the nervous system and interferes with the function of biological enzymes, causing neurological disorders ranging from behavioral problems to brain damage, and affects general health, cardiovascular, and renal systems.

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Lead consequently has a face-centered cubic structure like the similarly sized divalent metals calcium and strontium.

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Lead is a very soft metal with a Mohs hardness of 1.

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Lead has a magic number of protons, for which the nuclear shell model accurately predicts an especially stable nucleus.

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Lead-210 is particularly useful for helping to identify the ages of samples by measuring its ratio to lead-206.

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Lead-205 is the most stable radioisotope, with a half-life of around 1.

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Lead metal resists sulfuric and phosphoric acid but not hydrochloric or nitric acid; the outcome depends on insolubility and subsequent passivation of the product salt.

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Lead sulfide is a semiconductor, a photoconductor, and an extremely sensitive infrared radiation detector.

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Lead dihalides are well-characterized; this includes the diastatide and mixed halides, such as PbFCl.

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Lead dioxide is a strong oxidizing agent, capable of oxidizing hydrochloric acid to chlorine gas.

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Lead is classified as a chalcophile under the Goldschmidt classification, meaning it is generally found combined with sulfur.

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Lead was used in the Ancient Chinese royal court as a stimulant, as currency, and as a contraceptive; the Indus Valley civilization and the Mesoamericans used it for making amulets; and the eastern and southern African peoples used lead in wire drawing.

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Lead tablets were commonly used as a material for letters.

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Lead coffins, cast in flat sand forms, with interchangeable motifs to suit the faith of the deceased were used in ancient Judea.

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Lead was used to make sling bullets from the 5th century BC.

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Lead became the chief material for making bullets for firearms: it was cheap, less damaging to iron gun barrels, had a higher density, and its lower melting point made the production of bullets easier as they could be made using a wood fire.

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Lead was proven to be more dangerous in its fume form than as a solid metal.

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Lead metal has several useful mechanical properties, including high density, low melting point, ductility, and relative inertness.

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Lead has been used for bullets since their invention in the Middle Ages.

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Lead is still used in statues and sculptures, including for armatures.

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Lead is added to copper alloys, such as brass and bronze, to improve machinability and for its lubricating qualities.

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Lead has no natural resonance frequencies; as a result, sheet-lead is used as a sound deadening layer in the walls, floors, and ceilings of sound studios.

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Lead is an established shielding material from radiation in nuclear science and in X-ray rooms due to its denseness and high attenuation coefficient.

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Lead is used in high voltage power cables as shell material to prevent water diffusion into insulation; this use is decreasing as lead is being phased out.

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Lead is one of three metals used in the Oddy test for museum materials, helping detect organic acids, aldehydes, and acidic gases.

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Lead-based coloring agents are used in ceramic glazes and glass, especially for red and yellow shades.

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Lead is frequently used in the polyvinyl chloride coating of electrical cords.

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Lead has no confirmed biological role, and there is no confirmed safe level of lead exposure.

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Lead is a highly poisonous metal, affecting almost every organ and system in the human body.

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Lead exposure is a global issue since lead mining and smelting, and battery manufacturing, disposal, and recycling, are common in many countries.

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Lead enters the body via inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption.

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Lead softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape.

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Lead was banned for shot and sinkers in the United States in 2017, although that ban was only effective for a month, and a similar ban is being considered in the European Union.

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Lead use was further curtailed by the European Union's 2003 Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive.

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