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Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb (from Latin: plumbum) and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed to air. Lead has a shiny chrome-silver luster when it is melted into a liquid.

Lead is used in building construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets and shots, weights, as part of solders, pewters, fusible alloys and as a radiation shield. Lead has the highest atomic number of all of the stable elements, although the next higher element, bismuth, has a half-life that is so long (much longer than the age of the universe) that it can be considered stable. Its four stable isotopes have 82 protons, a magic number in the nuclear shell model of atomic nuclei.

Lead, at certain exposure levels, is a poisonous substance to animals as well as for human beings. It damages the nervous system and causes brain disorders. Excessive lead also causes blood disorders in mammals. Like the element mercury, another heavy metal, lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates both in soft tissues and the bones.


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