Lead is chiefly obtained from the mineral galena by a roasting process. At least 40% of lead in the UK is recycled from secondary sources such as scrap batteries and pipes. Lead is still 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.
It is often used to store corrosive liquids. It is also sometimes used in architecture, for roofing and in stained glass windows.
This easily worked and corrosion-resistant metal has been used for pipes, pewter and paint since Roman times. It has also been used in lead glazes for pottery and, in this century, insecticides, hair dyes and as an anti-knocking additive for petrol. All these uses have now been banned, replaced or discouraged as lead is known to be detrimental to health, particularly that of children. lead is the original heavy metal, the most notorious offender in that toxic group. Lead damages the brain and the kidneys, it can cause anaemia and a form of gout with the doleful title of saturnine gout.
Lead is a highly lustrous, bluish-white element that makes up only about 0.0013 percent of the Earth's crust, according to the Jefferson Lab. It is not considered rare, however, since it is fairly widespread and easy to extract. Lead typically occurs in very small amounts in ores such as galena, anglesite and cerussite. Lead is commonly mined and smelted in Missouri, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana and Texas, according to Plumbing Manufacturers International. About one-third of the lead in the United States is recycled.