Lead - Pb
Lead is a bluish-white lustrous metal. It is very soft, highly malleable, ductile, and a relatively poor conductor of electricity. It is very resistant to corrosion but tarnishes upon exposure to air. Lead isotopes are the end products of each of the three series of naturally occurring radioactive elements.
Lead pipes bearing the insignia of Roman emperors, used as drains from the baths, are still in service. Alloys include pewter and solder. Tetraethyl lead (PbEt4) is still used in some grades of petrol (gasoline) but is being phased out on environmental grounds.
Lead in the environment
Native lead is rare in nature. Currently lead is usually found in ore with zinc, silver and copper and it is extracted together with these metals. The main lead mineral in Galena (PbS) and there are also deposits of cerrussite and anglesite which are mined. Galena is mined in Australia, which produces 19% of the world's new lead, followed by the USA, China, Peru' and Canada. Some is also mined in Mexico and West Germany. World production of new lead is 6 million tonnes a year, and workable reserves total are estimated 85 million tonnes, which is less than 15 year's supply.
Lead occurs naturally in the environment. However, most lead concentrations that are found in the environment are a result of human activities. Due to the application of lead in gasoline an unnatural lead-cycle has consisted. In car engines lead is burned, so that lead salts (chlorines, bromines, oxides) will originate.
Read more on lead in water
Back to periodic chart.