Throughout human history, lead has been used in many societies, from the Egyptian Pharaohs to the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans. Lead was used in building construction, including roofs, piping and fastening bolts, in making products like tanks, gutters, statues, figurines, ornaments, coins, pots, kettles, cisterns, baths, glass, coffins and weaponry. Specifically, compounded (highly soluble) lead continued to be widely used into modern times because of its favorable characteristics. Industrial products, including cosmetics, pigments, pottery glazes, paint, pesticides and gasoline contained compounded lead.
Today, lead is a component of numerous batteries, including Green Energy batteries necessary for cars, solar cells and wind turbines. Additionally, solder, pewter, stained glass, jewelry, pottery, communication cable, radiation protection and PVC plastics contain some form of lead. The lead compounds found in today’s products combined with legacy compounded lead from residual paints, pesticides, gasoline, mining tailings, contaminated landfills, microtrash and fallout from industries such as foundries and smelters is now ubiquitous in our environment.
Unlike metallic lead, industrial lead compounds are highly soluble. These lead compounds have long been used in many different applications and are combined with a variety of different elements, which provide favorable industrial characteristics. Unfortunately, the lead compounds incorporated into many industrial applications are in a far more soluble form than metallic lead.
The solubility of lead is an important factor in determining the relative bioavailability of the substance in an organism. Bioavailability refers to the manner and ease with which a substance can pass into an organism (after ingestion, inhalation or dermal exposure) and reach the systemic circulation, eliciting a response in the body (i.e lead poisoning). Soluble forms of compounded lead in industrial products, such as leaded paint, gasoline and pesticides, are readily absorbed in the body and increase blood-lead levels significantly. In other words, the lead in industrial lead compounds is soluble and can readily be absorbed within biological systems, making them bioavailable to humans, plants and animals, and potentially causing lead poisoning.