Lead production declined after the fall of Rome and did not reach comparable levels until the Industrial Revolution.
In 2014, annual global production of lead was about ten million tonnes, over half of which was from recycling.
In lead, the inert pair effect increases the separation between its s- and p-orbitals, and the gap cannot be overcome by the energy that would be released by extra bonds following hybridization.
It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials.
The four stable isotopes of lead could theoretically undergo alpha decay to isotopes of mercury with a release of energy, but this has not been observed for any of them; their predicted half-lives range from 10 Three of the stable isotopes are found in three of the four major decay chains: lead-206, lead-207, and lead-208 are the final decay products of uranium-238, uranium-235, and thorium-232, respectively.
These decay chains are called the uranium series, the actinium series, and the thorium series.
Lead's high density, low melting point, ductility and relative inertness to oxidation make it useful.
These properties, combined with its relative abundance and low cost, resulted in its extensive use in construction, plumbing, batteries, bullets and shot, weights, solders, pewters, fusible alloys, white paints, leaded gasoline, and radiation shielding.