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Science Innovation Centre · 082 · Lead

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Lead is a bluish-white lustrous metal. It is very soft, highly malleable, ductile, and a relatively poor conductor of electricity. It is very resistant to corrosion but tarnishes upon exposure to air. Lead isotopes are the end products of each of the three series of naturally occurring radioactive elements.

Lead pipes bearing the insignia of Roman emperors, used as drains from the baths, are still in service. Alloys include pewter and solder. Tetraethyl lead (PbEt4) is still used in some grades of petrol (gasoline) but is being phased out on environmental grounds.

Lead is a major constituent of the lead-acid battery used extensively in car batteries. It is used as a colouring element in ceramic glazes, as projectiles, in some candles to threat the wick. It is the traditional base metal for organ pipes, and it is used as electrodes in the process of electrolysis. One if its major uses is in the glass of computer and television screens, where it shields the viewer from radiation. Other uses are in sheeting, cables, solders, lead crystal glassware, ammunitions, bearings and as weight in sport equipment.