Lead is used in building construction, lead-acid batteries, bullets and shot, weights, as part of solders, pewters, fusible alloys, and as a radiation shield. Lead has the highest atomic number of all of the stable elements, although the next higher element, bismuth, has one isotope with a half-life that is so long (over one billion times the estimated age of the universe) that it can be considered stable. Lead's four stable isotopes each have 82 protons, a magic number in the nuclear shell model of atomic nuclei. The isotope lead-208 also has 126 neutrons, another magic number, and is hence double magic, a property that grants it enhanced stability: lead-208 is the heaviest known stable isotope.

If ingested, lead is poisonous to animals and humans, damaging the nervous system and causing brain disorders. Excessive lead also causes blood disorders in mammals. Lead is a neurotoxin that accumulates both in soft tissues and the bones.

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