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Fact Sheet 2011–3045

Lead—Soft and Easy to Cast

By S.J. Kropschot and Jeff L. Doebrich


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Lead is a corrosion-resistant dense metal that is easily molded and shaped. The chemical symbol for lead, Pb, is an abbreviation of the Latin word plumbum, meaning soft metal. Archeological research indicates that lead has been used by humans for a variety of purposes for more than 5,000 years. Water pipes that date back to the Roman Empire, glazes on prehistoric ceramics, and the cosmetic kohl, used by ancient Egyptians to darken their eyelids, are a few examples of ancient uses of lead. Today, lead, which has been mined on all continents except Antarctica, is one of the most important metals to industrialized economies.

Posted July 2011

For additional information contact:
Mineral Resources Program Coordinator
U.S. Geological Survey
913 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192-0002
Telephone: 703—648—6100
Fax: (703)—648—6057


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Suggested citation:

Kropschot, S.J., and Doebrich, J.L., 2011, Lead—Soft and easy to cast: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011–3045, 2 p., available at

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