What is lead?

Lead is a type of metal that is found naturally in the earth. It is toxic to humans, and can get into our bodies when we breathe or swallow something that has lead in it or on it. Young children below the age of three are at the greatest risk because their brains are still growing.
Lead was once used in products found in and around homes such as paints, gasoline and lead solder used for plumbing and food cans. It is still used to make batteries, ammunition, devices to shield X-rays and some other things. Lead is put into the environment when burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas and during some mining and manufacturing activities.