Photograph of the ore galena courtesy of Mineralite
Lead is a soft, malleable and ductile metal. Lead oxidises readily in moist air, is stable to oxygen and water, but dissolves in nitric acid. It is a poor electrical and thermal conductor but has reasonable corrosion resistance. Applications for this metal are wide and varied; for example, its relative imperviousness to radiation makes it ideal as radiation shielding material for use with X-ray equipment. Lead is also used in ceramic glazes, batteries, paints, was used as a fuel additive in petrol (lead tetraethyl) and as a prime constituent of soft solders. Its use is now being discouraged as lead is now known to be detrimental to health, particularly to that of children. In Latin it is plumbum, hence symbol Pb.


Also known as

Known of and used since prehistoric times.

14 ppm of the Earth's crust. The main source of the metal is the ore "galena", lead (II) sulphide (PbS) which occurs as grey cubic crystals, often in conjunction with "sphalerite", the equivalent sulphide of zinc.

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Atomic number 82 Clip
Atomic / Molecular Weight 207.2 gmol-1Clip
Density 11343 kgm-3Clip
Crystal Structure fcc Clip
Lattice constant 495 fmClip
Melting Point 600.662 KClip
Boiling Point 2033 KClip
Tensile strength 12e6 to 17e6 Nm-2Clip
Linear expansivity 0.0000289 K-1Clip
Specific heat capacity 130 Jkg-1K-1Clip
Latent heat of fusion 23000 Jkg-1Clip
Thermal conductivity 35 Wm-1K-1Clip
Acoustic wave velocity (longitudinal bulk waves) 2160 ms-1Clip
Acoustic wave velocity (Irrotational waves) 1188 ms-1Clip
Acoustic wave velocity (Shear waves) 700 ms-1Clip
Bulk Modulus of Rigidity 45800000000 Nm-2Clip
Electromotive Series 0.13 VClip
Electrical Conductivity 4550000 Sm-1Clip
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See also: Lead II Carbonate, Lead II Chromate IV, Lead II Oxide, Lead II Sulphide, Lead IV Oxide, Nonferrous, Periodic Table, Tetraethyl Lead, Tetramethyl Lead.

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Subjects: Chemistry