Lead is a chemical element with the symbol Pb and the atomic number 82. It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials, and is soft and malleable with a relatively low melting point. Lead is found abundantly throughout the Earth, and has been used in a wide variety of products including gasoline, paint, plumbing, ceramics, soldering, batteries and even cosmetics. Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often for months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems, particularly in children under the age of 6 who are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can seriously affect mental and physical development.
At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal. Lead was once regularly used in the manufacture of common household products and gasoline. There is no safe level of exposure to lead, as it is a toxic metal that does not go away over time. Lead can enter through the skin or when a person breathes in or eats or drinks something contaminated with lead.
Lead in the body can damage the brain, kidneys, and other organs.