Lead is a chemical element – a substance that contains only one form of atom. Its official chemical price is Pb, and its atomic number is 82, which method that a command atom has actually 82 protons in its nucleus. Lead has the highest atomic number of any steady (non-radioactive) element. It is a dense, hefty metal – however it is soft and also can it is in shaped and stretched there is no breaking.

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Lead’s chemistry symbol – Pb – comes from the Latin indigenous plumbum. The Roman empire used cause make waterpipes, so words plumbum was connected with equipment that brought water into buildings. Today, we call this plumbing and also those who work-related with that plumbers.

A similar word, plumbago, also has an association through lead and it has actually caused misconceptions because that centuries. Plumbago (also known as black lead) is actually graphite. The soft black substance in your wood pencil has never been made the lead.

Metals of antiquity

Lead is one of the seven steels of classical times – metals that people identified and used in old times. The other steels of antiquity are gold, silver, copper, tin, iron and mercury. Each metal was linked with one of the seven recognized celestial bodies. Gold, for example, was associated with the Sun due to its colour and value. Lead to be the least preferable of the old metals due to its dull grey colour and also heaviness, so the was associated with Saturn – the the furthest of the known planets.


Fast forward to the center Ages, and lead became an object of good interest to alchemists. Alchemy to be a mix of chemistry and philosophy the sought to turn lead right into gold. Alchemists thought that all steels were make of the very same substance, however metals favor lead were spiritually and also physically immature forms of the greater metals. With refinement, lead could become spiritually perfect as with gold. Also famous scientists like Sir Isaac Newton dabbled in alchemy.


It this era of modern-day science, the historical mix that science, philosophy and also religion may appear unusual. Every scientific knowledge is produced within a larger society and culture. The tentative scientific expertise of old and classic civilisations was affected by social aspects the the time. As brand-new information was discovered, the old methods of thinking were discarded.


Uses that lead

Lead is usually discovered as an ore – in mix with other facets such together silver. This kind of ore has actually a short melting point so it was reasonably easy come smelt, and also lead became a byproduct the the much more valuable silver. Humans have actually been making item from command for around 9,000 years. The old Egyptians and also Greeks supplied lead in cosmetics, glass and enamels. Other early civilisations used result in make coins, as a composing material and also for medicinal purposes.


During the center Ages, lead was generally used in roofing and also piping because of its malleability and durability. In 1160, building contractors used 182 tonnes of thin lead panels come cover the roof the Notre Dame Cathedral, and also later 680 tonnes went into its spire. Lead was additionally a an essential component in the building of firearms and printing presses. Lead production increased throughout the Industrial revolution due come a growing demand for lead paints and plumbing.

Some old uses the lead proceed today – weights, roofing materials, snucongo.organ pipes and also sculptures. Other provides are more modern-day – radiation shields in clinical X-ray rooms and also nuclear scientific research labs and also in lead-acid batteries.


Lead dram a component in protecting important new Zealand structures like the Museum of brand-new Zealand car Papa Tongarewa. The buildings use basic isolators to protect them during an earthquake. The lead main point deforms throughout an earthquake, taking in some that the energy, and then reverts to its initial shape.


Concerns around lead poisoning

It was during the Industrial transformation that doctors noticed illness like gout were an ext commonly uncovered in painters and plumbers 보다 in the remainder of the population. Other health issues – including blindness, anaemia and kidney and brain damage – persuaded officials to create laws that reduced the public’s exposure come lead. In brand-new Zealand, lead was eliminated from all but clearly labelled special-purpose paints in 1965 and banned native petrol in 1996.

The valuable links ar at the end of this post has information concerning lead poisoning, treatment and also prevention.

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Science and society can have differing views on an issue. When it to be proposed to include lead come petrol in the 1920s, researchers advised the it would be dangerous come people and the environment. The desire for cheaper fuel and also safer car prevailed, and also lead to be added. Together scientific evidence on the dangers of command grew, publicly intolerance the lead also grew, and leaded petrol to be banned.