Lead is an incredibly useful metal, but it is toxic to humans. Throughout history — before the scientific advancements of the 20th century revealed its potent toxicitylead was widely used in a variety of products, including cosmetics, paint, solder, pipes and gasoline. Certain properties of lead, namely its ductility and resistance to corrosion and tiny leaks, make it a particularly good material for constructing water pipes. Even the ancient Romans made their water pipes out of lead, causing some to believe that lead poisoning, at least partially, led to the fall of the Roman Empire.

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