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Lead (/lɛd/) is a chemical element in the carbon group with symbol Pb (from Latin: plumbum) and atomic number 82. It is a soft, malleable and heavy post-transition metal. Freshly cut, solid lead has a bluish-white color that soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed to air; the liquid metal has shiny chrome-silver luster. Lead has the highest atomic number of any non-radioactive element (two radioactive elements, namely technetium and promethium, are lighter), although the next higher element, bismuth, has one isotope with a half-life that is long enough (over one billion times the estimated age of the universe) to be considered stable. Lead's four stable isotopes each have 82 protons, a magic number in the nuclear shell model of atomic nuclei. The isotope lead-208 also has 126 neutrons, another magic number, and is hence double magic, a property that grants it enhanced stability: lead-208 is the heaviest known stable nuclide.
Lead is used in building construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets and shot, weights, as part of solders, pewters, fusible alloys, and as a radiation shield.
If ingested or inhaled, lead and its compounds are poisonous to animals and humans. Lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates both in soft tissues and the bones, damaging the nervous system and causing brain disorders. Excessive lead also causes blood disorders in mammals. Lead poisoning has been documented since ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and ancient China.
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