Lead

Lead, written shorthand as Pb, is the 82nd element on the periodic table. It is a metallic element with a very high density. Below is a table describing more properties of lead.

Element Property Description


Half life: Stable
Atomic number 82
Atomic mass (amu) 207.2
Number of neutrons 125 (for the most common isotope
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[1]
Leaded fuel Adding lead to gasoline increased power output and greatly improved engine performance. Previously, engines ran extremely rough and had severe maintenance issues. Lead prevented fuel from igniting prematurely in the pistons, helping to further reduce wear and tear on engine parts. Unfortunately, adding lead to gasoline had undesirable consequences - lead concentrations in the environment greatly increased in areas using leaded gasoline. These increased levels of lead caused a large amount of people get lead poisoning
Uses Lead has a wide variety of uses in modern society:
  • Radiation shielding for both the nuclear power and medical industries
  • Ammunition[2]
  • Lead-acid batteries[2]
  • Crystal glass[1]
  • Paints - though use in paint is being greatly reduced due to health hazards
  • Radiation shielding - lead is dense and is therefore effective at stopping some forms of ionizing radiation.
  • Leaded gasoline - again use in gasoline is being reduced
  • Environmental impact Since the restrictions on the use of lead in gasoline there has been a significant decrease in the concentrations of lead in the environment and are currently low enough not to be considered a health hazard
    Health effects Lead is extremely harmful to most living creatures specifically when it enters the blood stream and can cause symptoms such as:
  • Developmental delay[3]
  • Learning difficulties[3]
  • Irritability[3]
  • Loss of appetite[3]
  • Weight loss[3]
  • Sluggishness and fatigue[3]
  • Abdominal pain[3]
  • Vomiting[3]
  • Constipation[3]
  • Hearing loss[3]
  • Death[3]
  • Where it's found Lead can be found in many countries throughout the world with Austrailia, China, and Russia having the largest reserves[4]. Primarily, it can be found in ore form with copper, zinc, and silver but is most abundant in the mineral galena.
    How it's harvested Depending on the ore, lead can be processed a few different ways. Primarily it can be roasted in blast furnaces which cause differing elements and compounds to separate thus allowing the lead to be extracted. It should be noted that the process is more complex describes and additional treatment is typically needed to remove other contaminants etc.

    References

    1. 1.0 1.1 "Thorium" internet: http://periodictable.com/Elements/090/
    2. 2.0 2.1 "Uses of Lead" internet: http://geology.com/usgs/lead/
    3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 "Lead Poisoning" internet: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lead-poisoning/basics/symptoms/con-20035487
    4. "Lead reserves worldwide as of 2013, by country (in million metric tons)" internet: http://www.statista.com/statistics/273652/global-lead-reserves-by-selected-countries/

    Authors and Editors

    Jordan Hanania, Braden Heffernan, James Jenden, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason Donev