10 things…Lead

Lead is…

1. the reason plumbing is called plumbing.  Lead’s chemical symbol Pb is derived from the Latin word plumbum meaning soft metal.  The Romans used lead for their water pipes because it is soft enough to be easily molded.

2. no longer in petrol.  Lead compounds were used in petrol to improve the octane rating (makes car engines run more smoothly), but lead accumulates in the environment and in humans and is a poison.

3.  often found in stained glass windows as the silvery metal between coloured pieces of glass.

4.  very dense and used to shield people from radiation such as x-rays in hospital.

5. found in computers and other electronic gadgets, lead is an important component of solder used to construct circuit boards.  Disposal of e-waste must be handled carefully to avoid lead contaminating the environment.

6. sometimes formed by the radioactive decay of some heavy elements such as uranium, thorium and actinium.

7. what the alchemists were trying to turn into gold.

8.  used in batteries (lead-acid batteries) which are a type of rechargeable battery used in cars.

9. soft, ductile and maleable – good for shaping into all kinds of useful objects.

10. mainly found as galena, PbS (lead sulfide), and can be extracted from this ore by roasting to produce lead oxide, then reduced to metallic lead in a blast furnace.