Lead is a bluish-white very dense metal, which is very soft, highly malleable, and a relatively poor conductor of electricity. It is odourless and highly resistant to corrosion. Lead is also a natural occurring element in the environment.
Common name: Lead (Pb)
The primary use of lead is in lead-acid batteries. Other important uses include lead roofing and flashing, lead solders in electronic equipment, in radiation shielding and in pigments. Lead is also used in fishing equipment and lead shots. Lead used to be in petrol. The majority of lead used today is not only produced from minerals containing lead but from recycling of old lead scrap and in particular from recovery of lead from lead-acid batteries.
Releases to the environment
Current major sources of emission to the environment include iron and steel industry, disposal of lead containing products and the energy and chemical industry. Historical use of lead in paint, petrol and water pipes contributes to releases to land and water. Sewage treatment plants are also a significant emission source to surface waters.
Impacts on the environment and human health
Excessive exposure to lead and some of its compounds may cause effects on the nervous system and have an impact on learning abilities and behaviour. Lead is toxic to plants, animals and aquatic life. However, hazards depend on the form and bioavailability of lead.
Lead and its compounds are listed as priority hazardous substance in of the EU Water Framework Directive, in the OSPAR convention for protection of the Marine Environment and in the Basel Convention controlling the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes. Furthermore lead is on the EU-Commissions EPER list and listed in the PRTR Protocol under the Århus Convention.
CAS NO: 7439-92-1.