Monday, August 9, 2010


Lead is a main-group element with symbol Pb (Latin: plumbum) and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal, also considered to be one of the heavy metals. Lead has a bluish-white color when freshly cut, but tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed to air. It has a shiny chrome-silver luster when melted into a liquid.

Lead is used in building construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets and shot, weights, and is part of solder, pewter, fusible alloys and radiation shields. Lead has the highest atomic number of all stable elements, although the next element, bismuth, has a half-life so long (longer than the estimated age of the universe) it can be considered stable.

It is a dense, ductile, very soft, highly malleable, bluish-white metal that has poor electrical conductivity. This true metal is highly resistant to corrosion, and because of this property, it is used to contain corrosive liquids (e.g., sulfuric acid). Because lead is very malleable and resistant to corrosion it is extensively used in building construction, e.g., external coverings of roofing joints. Lead can be toughened by addition of a small amount of antimony or other metals. All lead, except 204Pb, is the end product of a complex radioactive decay. Lead is also poisonous, as are its compounds.

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