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Elements for Kids

Lead

The element lead

  • Symbol: Pb
  • Atomic Number: 82
  • Atomic Weight: 207.2
  • Classification: Post-transition metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: 11.34 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: 327.5°C, 621.4°F
  • Boiling Point: 1749°C, 3180°F
  • Discovered by: Known about since ancient times


Lead is the fifth element of the fourteenth column in the periodic table. It is classified as a post-transition metal, a heavy metal, and a poor metal. Lead atoms have 82 electrons and 82 protons with 4 valence electrons in the outer shell.

Characteristics and Properties

Under standard conditions lead is a soft silvery metal with a bluish tint. It becomes a darker gray after coming into contact with air. It is very malleable (can be pounded into a thin sheet) and ductile (can be stretched into a long wire). Lead is a poor electrical conductor when compared to other metals.

Lead is a very heavy element. It combines with other elements to make a variety of minerals including galena (lead sulfide), anglesite (lead sulfate), and cerussite (lead carbonate).

Where is it found on Earth?

Lead can be found in the Earth's crust in its free form, but it is mostly found in ores with other metals such as zinc, silver, and copper. Even though there isn't a high concentration of lead in the Earth's crust, it is fairly easy to mine and refine.

How is lead used today?

The majority of lead produced today is used in lead-acid batteries. These types of batteries are used in cars because of their low cost and high power.

Because lead is resistant to corrosion, has such a high density, and is relatively inexpensive, it is used in water applications such as weights for scuba divers and ballasts for sailboats.

Other applications that use lead include roofing material, electrolysis, statues, solder for electronics, and ammunition.

What is lead poisoning?

Too much lead in the body can cause lead poisoning. Lead can accumulate in the body's bones and soft tissues. If too much accumulates it will damage the nervous system and can cause brain disorders. Lead is toxic to many of the body's organs including the heart, kidneys, and intestines. Too much lead can cause headaches, confusion, seizures, and even death.

Lead poisoning is especially dangerous in children. One of the leading causes of lead poisoning was lead in paint. Today, lead paint is banned in the United States.

How was it discovered?

People have known about the metal lead since ancient times. The low melting point and malleability made it easy to smelt and to use for different applications. The Romans were major users of lead using it to make pipes for channeling water into their cities.

Where did lead get its name?

Lead is an Anglo-Saxon word for the metal that has been used and known about since ancient times. The symbol Pb comes from the Latin word for lead, "plumbum." The Romans used lead for making pipes, which is where the word "plumber" comes from as well.

Isotopes

Lead occurs naturally in the form of four isotopes. The most common isotope is lead-208.

Interesting Facts about Lead


More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table





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