82Pb Lead

Year Discovered


Discovered By


Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


The meaning of its name is unknown, although its origins are Anglo-Saxon. Lead is a soft, ductile, blue-gray metal that is very stable. It will tarnish in air, react with certain acids, and is a poor conductor of electricity. Lead is used in storage batteries, cable coverings, bullets, as a sound absorber, a radiation shield for nuclear reactors and X-ray equipment, in making fine crystal glass and flint glass, in containers for corrosive liquids, alloys, such as solder, and in insecticides. It was used in paints and gasoline, however, due to lead’s toxicity these uses are being phased out. The ancient Romans used lead for water and drain pipes and some of these 2000 year old pipes are still functional. Lead is not now used for pipes because of its toxicity. Lead is a cumulative poison that damages the digestive tract and central nervous system. It is not easily absorbed by the body; it takes large amounts or a constant exposure to receive a toxic dose. The symbol for lead, Pb, comes from its Latin name plumbum. All major radioactive decay series have lead isotopes as their end product.

Biological Benefits

Lead has no known biological use.

Role in Life Processes

No known benefit for life processes in plants and animals.

Percentage Amount in the Human Body: 0.0002%


Lead is chiefly obtained from the mineral galena (lead sulfide). Other common lead-bearing minerals include anglesite (lead sulfate), boulangerite, cerussite, (lead carbonate), minim and pyromorphite. It is mined in Australia, the USA, Canada, China and Peru.