Periodic Table of Elements

Element Lead - Pb

Comprehensive data on the chemical element Lead is provided on this page; including scores of properties, element names in many languages, most known nuclides of Lead. Common chemical compounds are also provided for many elements. In addition technical terms are linked to their definitions and the menu contains links to related articles that are a great aid in one's studies.

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Overview of Lead

Lead's Name in Other Languages

  • Latin: Plumbum
  • Czech: Olovo
  • Croatian: Olovo
  • French: Plomb
  • German: Blei - s
  • Italian: Piombo
  • Norwegian: Bly
  • Portuguese: Chumbo
  • Russian: Свинец
  • Spanish: Plomo
  • Swedish: Bly

Atomic Structure of Lead

Chemical Properties of Lead

Physical Properties of Lead

Regulatory / Health

  • CAS Number
    • 7439-92-1
  • RTECS: OF7525000
  • OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)
    • TWA: 0.05 mg/m3
  • OSHA PEL Vacated 1989
    • TWA: 0.05 mg/m3
  • NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)
  • Routes of Exposure: Inhalation; Ingestion; Skin and/or eye contact
  • Target Organs: Eyes, gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system, kidneys, blood, gingival tissue
  • Levels In Humans:
    Note: this data represents naturally occuring levels of elements in the typical human, it DOES NOT represent recommended daily allowances.
    • Blood/mg dm-3: 0.21
    • Bone/p.p.m: 3.6-30
    • Liver/p.p.m: 3-12
    • Muscle/p.p.m: 0.23-3.3
    • Daily Dietary Intake: 0.06-0.5 mg
    • Total Mass In Avg. 70kg human: 120 mg (stored in skeleton)

Who / Where / When / How

  • Discoverer: Known to ancient civilization
  • Discovery Location: Unknown
  • Discovery Year: Unknown
  • Name Origin:
    Latin: plumbum; Anglo-Saxon: lead
  • Abundance of Lead:
    • Earth's Crust/p.p.m.: 14
    • Seawater/p.p.m.:
      • Atlantic Suface: 0.00003
      • Atlantic Deep: 0.000004
      • Pacific Surface: 0.00001
      • Pacific Deep: 0.000001
    • Atmosphere/p.p.m.: N/A
    • Sun (Relative to H=1E12): 85.1
  • Sources of Lead:
    Found most often in ores called galena. Also found in pyromorphite, boulangerite and cerussite ores. World wide production of lead is around 2,800,000 tons per year. Primary mining areas are in USA, Australia, Mexico, Germany and France.
  • Uses of Lead:
    Used in solder, shielding against radiation, in batteries and ammunition. Still used in gasoline in some areas of the world, but this use is being phased out.
  • Additional Notes:

    Lead is extremely toxic, but its effects are accumulative and most often develop after extended exposure. Lead affects the nervous system, causing mental retardation or other nervous disorders. It also affects other organs of the body. People suffering from lead poisoning may exhibit weakness, general disability, nervous disorders and eventual death. Children are most susceptable, partly because they have rapid motabolism and are small and partly because of their habits. They chew on things that might contain lead paint and play on floors and ground that might be contaminated, often putting their fingers in their mouth.

    A classic example of lead poisoning occurred in the early 1900's, but the cause of death was only recently determined. A large number of explorer families traveled to Alaska. The guide who escorted them contacted many different suppliers for provisions. He got a really good deal on canned food that he couldn't refuse. They set out on their journey and were never heard from again. Searchers never found any survivors. Years later someone decided to find out what happened. Bodies were found along with provisions. As it turned out, the cans had been sealed with lead solder. All of the human remains were wery high in lead content. They had, in fact, all died of lead poisoning.

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A list of reference sources used to compile the data provided on our periodic table of elements can be found on the main periodic table page.

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