Lead is one of the most common elements in our world. It is becoming increasingly common in the universe as heavier atoms decay to lead, and there are massive lead resources on Earth – meaning we can assume there will be no lead shortage in the foreseeable future. Etymologically, the Germanic word lead and the Latin plumbum, which gave it the Pb notation in the table of elements, may have the same origin in the Proto-Indo-European lAudh orɸloud-io.
Contrary to popular belief, lead is not very heavy in itself. It is silvery with a blue tinge, and is a soft, malleable material.
Lead has been in use since the ancient times because it is widely available through easy and cheap extraction and processing. It is available (rarely) in native form, and more widely found in galena ores, as well as anglesite, cerrusite or boulangerite ores.
This metal easily changes color through corrosion or heating, which led alchemists to believe that it, in fact, turned into other metals or that it had near-magic properties.
As it has a low melting point and high density, lead was used in numerous household and engineering products throughout history. Its use has now declined in commercially available items, because of its toxicity.
Lead was widely known beginning with the period around 6,000 B.C, and was later used by the Romans to make water pipes, which gave an enormous advantage to the Roman empire (although it was offset by even bigger long-term disadvantages).
For thousands of years, lead was a common component in numerous everyday items, from drinking cups to enamels. In more recent times, it became a massive "ingredient" in industrial production.
Lead is dangerous even at the smallest levels, especially when these levels are sustained in time. It is extremely toxic for young children even in low doses, and in higher doses it can be fatal for humans in general.
Lead poisoning symptoms include: