What type of metal is lead?
Before thinking about lead in water, you should ask yourself, “What type of metal is lead?” Should I worry about lead in my water?”
Lead is described in the periodic table as PB, is a soft, silvery-white or grayish metal found in the earth’s crust, is very malleable, ductile.
It is also a poor conductor of electricity, highly durable and resistant to corrosion, as is indicated by the continuing use of lead water pipes installed by the ancient Romans, which is still used for some countries till these days.
Although lead is not abundant, natural concentration processes have resulted in substantial deposits of commercial significance.
Significant deposits are found in the United States in the western states and the Mississippi valley.
Lead may be extracted by roasting the ore and then smelting it in a blast furnace or by direct smelting without roasting. Almost half of all refined lead is recovered from recycled scrap.
Some 24 million American homes are thought to contain unsafe quantities of lead paint or dust, where lead is in the air as a pollutant, it can be present in dust.
The human activity — such as mining, burning fossil fuels, and manufacturing — has made it more widespread and accessible.
What is the use of lead metal?
Because of this general chemical resistance, its ductility, ease of welding, low melting point, high density, and ability to absorb gamma radiation and X-radiation lead is widely used till today although it’s toxicity.
In the past, before it’s toxicity was attested – and as a heritage from the Romans – considerable amounts of lead were used in roofing, as coverings for electric cables placed in the ground or underwater, and as linings for water pipes and conduits and structures for the transportation and processing of corrosive substances.
Today, the most common sources are lead-based paint and water pipes in older buildings, lead-based dust, and contaminated water, air, or soil. Particles of lead can collect in household dust and garden soil. Cigarette smoke may also contribute.
Molten lead is an excellent solvent and collector for elemental silver and gold that’s why in the mining business lead is a frequent compound till those days, besides the widely used for car batteries, pigments, ammunition, cable sheathing, weights for lifting, weight belts for diving, lead crystal glass, radiation protection and in some solders.
How is lead poisonous?
Lead is a heavy metal and a strong poison, after months or years, these can reach dangerous and possibly fatal levels. It can accumulate in the body if it enters the mouth or is inhaled. It can also enter through splits in the skin or through mucous membranes.
Lead and its compounds are toxic and are retained by the body, accumulating over a long period of time—a phenomenon known as cumulative poisoning—until a lethal quantity is reached.
Lead poisoning is a serious and sometimes fatal condition, It can damage all the body systems, including the heart, bones, kidneys, teeth, intestines, reproductive organs, and the nervous and immune systems.
The toxicity of lead compounds increases as their solubility increases. In children the accumulation of lead may result in more several effects. Young children, especially before the age of 6 years, are particularly sensitive to lead poisoning. It can irreversibly damage mental and physical development.
Around half a million children in the United States between the ages of 1 and 5 years are believed to have lead levels in their blood that put them at risk of lead poisoning.
Lead Poisoning Symptoms
- Abdominal pain is usually the first sign if a high dose of lead is ingested
- Raised blood pressure
- Joint and muscle pain
- Tingling, pain, and numbness in the extremities
- Memory loss and decline in mental functions
- Unusual taste in the mouth, often described as metallic
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood disorders
- Reduction in sperm volume and quality
- Loss of pregnancy or preterm birth
- Foot or ankle drop, in the later stages
- Adults may develop gout and carpal tunnel syndrome
- Slowed body growth
- Reduced IQ
- loss of appetite and weight loss
- Constipation and mild abdominal pain
- General fatigue
- Blue tinge around the gums
- Haring loss and reduction in other senses
- Neurological weakness, in the later stages
However, symptoms are more likely to appear over time and that’s why is called chronic poisoning. The elimination of contact with a lead source is normally sufficient to effect a cure.
How can I get lead Poisoning?
- Soil: Lead that has arrived in the soil from lead-based gasoline or paint can survive for many years. Areas next to old walls or by the sides of roads can be particularly affected.
- Dust: Paint chips or contaminated soil can form dust particles.
- Toys: Old toys might have been colored with lead-based paint. Although this is illegal in the US, toys from other countries may still use lead-based paints.
- Traditional cosmetics: Kohl, used as an eyeliner, has been found to contain high levels of lead.
- Stained glass: Stained-glass: Making stained-glass involves using lead solder.
- Pottery: Some ceramic glazes contain lead.
- Tobacco smoking: Active and passive smoking have been linked to higher lead levels in the blood.