Elemental lead (aka, metallic lead), is the form of lead used in the manufacture of ammunition. Metallic lead is rarely found naturally occurring in the environment. The mineral form of lead found in nature is predominantly galena (PbS), which is processed in ore and extracted to produce metallic lead. Presently, over half of the production of lead worldwide comes from recycled lead.
Metallic lead is naturally a bright and silvery metal that tarnishes to a dull grey when exposed to oxygen. Favorable characteristics of elemental lead include its high density, soft and malleable properties, low electrical conductivity, as well as its high resistance to corrosion.
Elemental lead’s resistance to corrosion makes it ideal for products used outdoors or around water. In the environment, metallic lead slowly forms a very thin oxide coating when exposed to air. This coating envelopes the lead, protecting it and preventing further oxidation and renders it highly resistant to corrosion. Accordingly, metallic lead is rather inert in the environment. Therefore, it tends to not be bioavailable to biological systems or to migrate in the environment, unlike industrial compounds of lead.