Bad Effects of Lead Extraction and How to Solve Them

There have been many techniques in dealing with metal extraction, such as: electrolysis, displacement, blast furnace through carbon and many other specific techniques. Each metal has their own extraction techniques and their own effect to the environment. The most common techniques used is displacement through carbon, as carbon is not really too costly, therefore it is profitable. In a lot of metal extraction, there are loads of complicated ways to get them, and one of them is the lead. Lead is known to be really dense at a density of 11.

34 g/cm 3 .

Also, lead is a quite a soft metal with a quite low melting point of 327 degree and a high boiling point of 1755 degree Celsius. This metal has a lot of uses due to its characteristics, such as being a sound barrier and a shield against x rays. Lead also resists corrosion of water, which makes it a good material for the building of roofs. Not only does it have many functions, it also contains 3 various minerals, which are galena, cerussite and anglesite, that are viably commercially viable.

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Due to this, metal  has countless uses and advantages, it is high in demand but if we keep extracting lead from its ore, sooner or later it will run out. On top of that, there are many effects on the environment if we do a lot of metal extraction. Therefore, I think we can just recycle lead so we can reduce the amount of lead wasted.

Many leftover things such as car battery are unused and thrown away.

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They are made up of lead, in which we can recycle them. Well if we recycle them, then there will be plenty more lead available and we can get them without affecting the environment. Extracting lead from its ore is a really complicated method which involves multiple extraction method.

First of all, the lead is grounded into small powders that are less than 0.1mm, making it have a texture that is pretty much the same with salt (sodium chloride). Next, the lead powder that was created is placed into a flotation process. This means that the lead will be mixing with water. Then, the lead powder and water mixture are added to pine oil and air bubbles are formed and agitation starts, which forms an oil froth containing the lead. After this, the lead forth is skimmed and then filtered, as there is still some excess water. Then, this froth is sintered at a temperature of 2500 Fahrenheit so it can oxidize impurities such as sulphur.

The result of this process is then placed through another blast furnace process. Carbon is more reactive than lead therefore displacement can happen. After the blast furnace, the final result would be a purer lead. But even after all of this process, this lead is still not 100 percent pure. At this stage, it is maybe at only about 95 percent pure. Once the lead has reached a certain level of purity, the lead is made into blocks. Mining activities are a really important economic activity but excess doing of metal extraction brings a lot of bad environmental impacts. One of them is having waste rocks. When we mine, metals such as lead, zinc, copper and other metals usually contain sulfides minerals in their ore and it is really dangerous to the environment. When these pyrites get into contact with air or water, it immediately goes through a process of “oxidation”. This oxidation process creates an acidic solution, which can kill any plants that is in contact to them. On top of that, if water touches the acidic solution, the water will turn acidic. Acidic enough to dissolve metals like zinc copper and other metals.

Worse of all, if this water is not removed, it will keep flowing and contaminate other bodies of water. Even though this contaminated acidic water can be neutralized by soils and rocks, if excessive amount of acidic solution is dissolved into the water, it can remain and affect our everyday water. Secondly, we have tailings from the ores. Tailings are the residue (referring to ores). These tailings have a really concentrated pyrite and these pyrites are more concentrated than those of the waste rocks. Also they can react more quickly. This is because it’s particles are really small therefore it can react more quickly.

On top of that, lead can also affect our health. Some of our food such as fruit, vegetables, meat, wine may contain lead. Lead can even be in our drinking water as it can enter through the corrosion of pipes. We can know if the water contains metal when the water taste slightly acidic. Luckily for us, all of the water treatment has pH adjustments, however there might be a little lead residue left in the water. According to lead can cause several sicknesses, such as listed below:

  • Disruption of the biosynthesis of hemoglobin and anemia
  • A rise in blood pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Miscarriages and subtle abortions
  • Disruption of nervous systems
  • Brain damage
  • Declined fertility of men through sperm damage
  • Diminished learning abilities of children
  • Behavioral disruptions of children, such as aggression, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity

Also, if a pregnant lady drink water that contains lead or any lead contains things, the lead can enter the fetus of the mother, and can cause a damage to the nervous system and brain of the yet to be born child. All these pyrites and residues has affected a lot of things such as water resources, soils, vegetables and crops. These are things we need a lot. If our soil has been contaminated, then we wouldn’t be able to plant in that area, therefore more land is wasted. Land is one of the important factors for production and it is also a limited resource. If less land can be used, the economy will drop. Also, vegetables are something we would need as source of food. If the land is contaminated, then we can’t plant any vegetables in that area which will make the production of vegetable less and it will also affect the economy.

Most of the times, a country with great fertile land would produce a lot of vegetable and therefore the country can export some away to earn more money. But if a land is contaminated, then most likely we can’t export any more vegetable as maybe there is not enough for the country itself. This will lead to having a less greater economy and less money circulation. Lastly, if water is contaminated, then we would need to buy water from other countries as we do not have enough clean water to drink and spend more money. On top of that, water is a scarce and limited resource, therefore we will need to protect it. Without water then we will not live.

So, I think that with all of these affects, we should try to reconsider a new method that does not involve extraction and mining. I think that one way is to start recycling lead. It is really easy to recycle lead as no matter how many times we melt it and reform them, their properties and quality will forever stay the same. Usually these recycling materials come from the car battery. A lot of cars over the years has been unused and its battery is made up of lead, therefore we can recycle those. Recycling lead does not require much complicated process like the extraction. First of all, what we will have to do is collect all the car batteries. They will be handed to specialized lead recycling companies that ensures safe transportation and delivery to their smelting plants.

There at the smelter, the batteries are then separated into different parts such as the lead metal part, paste, plastic and lastly the electrolyte. The lead metal that has been separated is then smelted until they are at liquid state, afterwards they are refined. The new refined lead is then made into another battery or made into some other lead used product, such as cable sheathing or healthcare materials like radiation shield. Not only does recycling help reduce the extraction of lead, it will also help the economy. As we are going to recycle the lead, specialized smelting companies will need employ more and more workers to work for them.

Therefore, the unemployment rate will fall and the economy will increase. So we can further conclude that recycling of lead is really effective, because not only does it reduce the harmful impact to the environment and economy, it also helps improve the economy. To sum up everything that had been stated, recycling of lead is believed to be a really good alternative for extraction. If we do extraction, then a lot of environmental and economical effect will come in place. However, if we encourage recycling, not only does it reduce extraction process, it will also improve the economy. Overall, it should be obvious that instead of extracting lead, we should now recycle them.

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Bad Effects of Lead Extraction and How to Solve Them. (2019, Dec 04). Retrieved from

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