Lead is a lustrous, bluish-white heavy metal, that is denser than most common materials. It is a soft and malleable metal, which has a relatively low melting point. It has been extracted from its ores for centuries–Ancient Rome was home to the widespread extraction and use of Lead.
Lead’s high density, ductility, and relative inertness to oxidation drew it to applications across several industries over time. Combined with Lead’s relative abundance and low cost, this resulted in Lead’s presence in construction, plumbing, batteries, bullets, white paints, fusible alloys, leaded gasoline, and radiation shielding among other applications. However, in the late 19th century, lead’s toxicity and its impact on the human body was recognized.
While this resulted in lead being phased out of several of its previous uses, the non-corrosive metal is still best suited for products that hold or touch highly acidic substances. Lead is used to line tanks that hold corrosive liquids, such as sulfuric acid. It is also used in lead-acid storage batteries, such as those installed in automobiles. Lead also makes an excellent shield against harmful radiation, such as that emitted by X-Ray equipment or nuclear reactors, due to its density and ability to absorb vibrations.