Lead, Pb, Is one of the heavy metals, well known since ancient times. It has been commonly used for thousands of years because it is easily extracted and easily worked with and it is widespread.

Lead and its compounds are toxic substances that cause substantial damages to people’s health, even when they are present in minor quantities. Similarly, the electrolyte (a sulphuric acid dilution), another lead-battery component, is a corrosive material that affects the human body and the environment in a negative way.

Production and consumption of lead is increasing worldwide. Total annual production is about 8 million tones; about half is produced from recycled scrap.

• 2008 metal production: 8,725,000 tones
• 2008 metal consumption: 8,706,000 tones

At current use rates, the supply of lead is estimated to run out in 42 years. Although, it has been suggested that lead could run out within 18 years based on an extrapolation of 2% growth per year. This may need to be reviewed to take account of renewed interest in recycling.