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Some materials are so commonplace that we take them for granted One of thosematerials is a grayish metal that has been with us for thousands of years That metal isleadstill one of the worlds most useful substances and one that never ceases to find a roleinhuman society Lead has the atomic symbol of Pb for plumbum lead in Latin Theatomic numberfor lead is 82 and the atomic mass is 20719 AMU It melts at about 327502 oC and boilsat1740 oC Lead is a heavy ductile soft gray solid It is soluble in nitric acid andinsoluble inwater It is found in North Central and South America Australia Africa and Europe Inmodern times lead has found a wide range of uses and world demand for lead and itsproducts has steadily increased Leads usefulness stems from the metals many desirableproperties softness high density low melting point ability to block radiationresistance tocorrosion readiness to form alloys and chemical compounds and ease of recycling Itsversatility as well as its physical and chemical properties accounted for its extensiveuseLead can be rolled into sheets which can be made into rods and pipes It can also bemoldedinto containers and mixed with other metallic elements Lead was used in ancient times for making coinage art objects andwater pipes Oneof the first known toxic substances lead was used by the Romans for lining aqueducts andinglazes on containers used for food and wine storage and it is suspected to have resultedinwidespread lead poisoning Members of the famous Franklin Expedition to the NorthwestPassage in the mid-1840s met a similar fate being poisoned from lead in solder widelyusedat the time to seal tins used to store foods Until recently one of the most significantuses wasan anti-knock additive in gasoline In the 1970s and 1980s steps were taken to reduce theuse of leaded gas By 1990 these actions had virtually eliminated the use of lead ingasolineLead is also one of the best and earliest examples of recycling about 55
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