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What Is Lead?

One of the common minerals known to man, lead is a highly toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust. Because of its abundance and low cost to produce, it has been widely used in a variety of products. Metallic lead occurs rarely in a natural format, it is usually found in ore with copper, zinc and silver.

Lead is a soft, ductile, dense and highly malleable metal with a dull bluish-gray colour. Once melted into a liquid it has a shiny chrome-silver lustre. It is a poor conductor of electricity and is corrosion resistant thus used extensively in the construction and building industry.

The Uses Of Lead

Lead is one of the oldest known and used metals, the Romans used it in solder and to make pipes and traces of its use can be found way back to ancient Egypt and Babylonia. One of leads’ most important uses is as a shield against radiation during x-rays. Lead is also used in:
  • Glazing bars for stained glass
  • Machine tools
  • Customisation of tennis rackets
  • Batteries
  • Cars
  • Paint
  • Organ pipes
  • Ceramic products
  • Some toys
  • Scuba diving weight belts
  • Containers storing radioactive materials
According to the website called Info Please, the single most important commercial use of lead is in the manufacture of lead-acid storage batteries. It is used in alloys, and for covering cables and lining laboratory sinks, tanks and chambers for the manufacture of sulphuric acid. It was used in the foundations of the Pan Am Building built over Grand Central station in New York because of its excellent vibration-dampening characteristics

Production Of Lead

Lead compounds are found in abundance throughout the world. The chief producers of lead are Australia, China, America, Canada and Russia. Other countries that produce lead are Peru, Mexico, Sweden, Morocco, South Africa and North Korea.


Even though lead is plentiful, environmental analysts have predicted that it will run out within the next 18 – 42 years. Its uses have dropped over the years due to lead poisoning scares and more legislationhas been in place to restrict its usage in certain products. However, it does have its benefits as a shield against radiation. With emerging technologic advancements in radioactive warfare, lead is not going to be phased out anytime soon.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
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