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Lead symbol Pb dense bluish-gray metallic element that was one of the first known metals The atomic number of lead is 82 the element is in group 14 or IVa of the periodic table Lead was mentioned in the Old Testament It was used by the Romans for making water pipes soldered with an alloy of lead and tin Few metals have been used in more different ways than lead Lead ornaments and coins have been in use since ancient times In the Middle Ages strips of lead called cames were first used to assemble the pieces in stained-glass windows In the United States about two thirds of all the lead produced is used in electric storage batteries of the kind found in automobiles Large amounts of lead are used as protective coverings for electrical cables and there are lead compounds in paints and pigments The use of lead in paints has been decreasing because lead is poisonous and many children have been poisoned by eating flakes of dried paint containing lead Lead bullets and shot made gunpowder effective in firearms Lead is the main ingredient of solder used for joining pieces of metal Metallic lead is a soft malleable ductile metal Lead is the heaviest and the softest of the common metals When gently heated it can be forced through annular holes or dies It has low tensile strength and is a poor conductor of electricity A freshly cut surface has a bright silvery luster which quickly turns to the dull bluish-gray color characteristic of the metal Lead melts at 328 C 662 F boils at 1740 C 3164 F and has a specific gravity of 1134 the atomic weight of lead is 20720 Because it resists attack by air and water as well as by many strong chemicals it can be used to protect electrical cables or to line large vessels in which chemical processes are carried out Screens to protect people from
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