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LEAD

(Pb) (Latin: plumbum) Atomic Number 82 Atomic Weight 207

Lead, the heaviest and softest of common metals, is a bluish-white, silvery, gray metal that is very soft, malleable easily melted, cast, resists corrosion, ductile, high luster, rolled and extruded. Lead is obtained chiefly from galena (PbS) by a roasting process. Lead is a metal of bright luster, is very soft, highly malleable, ductile, and a poor conductor of electricity. It is very resistant to corrosion. Lead is priced at about $1/kg. Lead released to the atmosphere will be in particulate matter and be subject to washout and gravitational settling.

Uses

Glass, piping, filler, explosives, solder and bearing metal.

automotivebatteries, gasoline additives, construction,

ammunition, electrical uses, TV glass, and paint, ceramics,

type metal, ballast or weights, and tubes or containers.

Lead also goes into cable covering, plumbing, and in the

manufacture of lead tetraethyl. The metal is very effective

as a sound absorber, is used as a radiation shield around

X-ray equipment and nuclear reactors, and is used to absorb

vibration. Lead oxide is used in producing fine "crystal glass."

Most recycled lead comes from scrap lead batteries since more

than 50% of the lead consumed in the USA is in the form of lead

batteries. About 90% is reclaimed; hence, the bulk of the recycling

industry is centered on the processing of lead battery scrap.

Health Effects

The exposure of humans to lead contamination in the environment, & the ingestion of lead from cooking & eating utensils causes lead poisoning. Acidic food, fruit juices, & wines stored in lead-lined bronze utensils caused high lead toxicity among the ancient Romans. Care must be used in handling lead as it is a cumulative poison. Environmental concern with lead poisoning has resulted in a national program to eliminate the lead in gasoline.

Lead takes it’s greatest toll on small children. Even very low levels of lead can cause reduced IQs, learning disabilities and behavioral problems such as hypertension and reduced attention span in children. The effects of lead are often life long and irreversible.

Lead has a very damaging effect on the body’s electrical system, the nervous system. It causes the critical life giving messages, sent from the brain to every cell and organ in our body, to become distorted. This results in the onset of a chain of tragic health effects.

Housing

To protect families from exposure to lead from paint, dust,

and soil, Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based

Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, also known as

Title X. Section 1018 of this law directed HUD and

EPA to require the disclosure of known information

on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards

before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978.

Lead In Drinking Water

Lead is a common contaminant found in tap water. Lead in drinking water usually originates between the water main in the street and the household faucet, so treatment from a central point outside of the home is neither logical or practical. Most lead in drinking water comes from lead lined pipes, lead solder and brass plumbing fixtures inside your home.

In adults lead in drinking water causes high blood pressure and reduces hemoglobin production necessary for oxygen transport and interferes with normal cellular calcium metabolism. Lead exposure is cumulative and long lasting. This toxic metal is stored by the body, primarily in teeth and bones.

It is estimated by EPA that lead in drinking water hundreds of thousands of cases of learning disorders in children and hypertension in adults each year in the U.S. Some studies have even shown a relationship in exposure to lead and adolescent crime. The effects of lead in drinking water include depression, anxiety, learning disabilities and hypertension. Many of these same factors lead to anti-social behavior and violence.

In 1991, the U.S. EPA lowered the federal standard for the allowable level of lead in drinking water from 50 ppb (parts per billion) to 15 ppb. The law requires EPA to set Maximum Contaminant Levels based on “health effects” and not economic feasibility. Even though research presented to the EPA documented that there is NO safe level for lead in drinking water, and that any level poses certain adverse health effects, the allowable level was set at 15 ppb after an intense lobbying effort by the water utilities.

Lead contamination from drinking water is completely preventable. By taking a few simple steps, such as installing point-of-use filtration, lead contamination can be virtually eliminated. You can tell if you have a lead line serving your house by scratching the metal of the water intake pipe from the street. If it is soft and shows a silvery shine when you scratch it, it is lead. You can verify this by using a magnet. It should not stick to a lead pipe.

Links

EPA

HUD Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control

The National Lead Information Center

Alliance For Healthy Homes (formerly

Alliance To End Childhood Lead Poisoning)