Lead minerals are easier to mine and lead is easier to extract from its ores than many other metals, which makes the resulting metal relatively inexpensive.
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Currently, lead is produced in quantities of around ten thousand tonnes annually; secondary production from recycling is gaining ground, accounting for around half of that figure.
Lead's toxicity has been a reason why lead was or is being phased out for some uses.
Lead is relatively easy to extract, and the metal was known to prehistoric people in Western Asia.
While its softness and dullness prevented it from high demand, galena—a principle ore of lead—often bore silver in it, which helped initiate production of lead.
It also displays a marked tendency toward covalent bonding.
Its compounds are most commonly found in the 2 oxidation state, rather than 4, unlike the lighter group 14 elements.
Exceptions are mostly limited to organolead compounds, where the positive charge on lead is dispersed and stabilized.
Like the lighter group 14 elements, lead shows a tendency to bond to itself, forming complicated chain, ring, or polyhedral structures.
The combined first and second ionization energy of lead—the total energy required to remove the two 6p electrons from a neutral lead atom—is close to that of tin, its upper neighbor in group 14.