In March 2020, Denver Water distributed 100,000 Brita water pitchers and water filters to homes across Denver as part of the agency’s Lead Reduction Program. Denver Water is replacing up to 84,000 of the lead service lines serving 27 percent of the 315,000 active taps in the city, mostly in neighborhoods built before 1951. The swap out is expected to take 15 years, so Denver Water delivers replacement filters via USPS to residents every six months.

Denver’s replacement of lead water lines is to prevent lead poisoning. Lead poisoning happens when lead builds up in the body over months or years, according to The Mayo Medical Clinic. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children 6 and younger are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, severely affecting mental and physical development.

It wasn’t until March 29, 1979 that pediatrician and child psychiatrist Herbert Needleman first documented the dangers of even the lowest forms of lead exposure. In adults, lead poisoning causes high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, poor mental function, and memory problems. 

Lead was used in paint until 1978 in the US and it’s still used in:

  • Plumbing
  • Batteries
  • Bullets and shot
  • Weights
  • Solders
  • Pewter
  • Leaded gasoline
  • Radiation shielding, like at the dentist when you get Xrays.

Atlas Metal and Iron recycles the following lead forms:

  • Sheet
  • Cable
  • Wheel weights. In fact, the car/truck industry employs it with high purity in most wheels, and it is a good place to find undiscovered lead. 

Lead is not a precious metal.

Nine precious metals are iridium, rhenium, ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, platinum, silver, and gold. Lead scrap doesn’t demand high prices like copper.

But it’s important that lead not end up in landfills. Besides the adverse effects on humans, When affected animals are observed, they show signs of central nervous system (CNS) damage – they may cease grazing, appear dull and unresponsive, walk aimlessly, or be blind. These symptoms are accompanied by muscle twitches, paralysis of the tongue, circling, and 'star- gazing'. Ecosystems near point sources of lead ae proven to show losses in biodiversity, changes in community composition, decreased growth and reproductive rates in plants.

Lead can be recycled in several ways.

Typically, scrap lead is melted down and reformed into new products such as car batteries, bullets, or even architectural components. This process of melting and reforming the lead is known as secondary smelting. Smelting allows manufacturers to reuse the lead without having to create new lead from scratch, reducing costs and the environmental impact of mining. Lead can also be recycled by shredding and separating it into component parts for reuse of specialized products made of recycled lead. This is known as tertiary recycling.

When scraping lead, know the different types:

  • Hard lead
  • Soft lead
  • Wheel weights
  • Pewter (mostly black tin)
  • 10/90 solder (10% tin)
  • 30/70 solder (30% tin)
  • 40/60 solder (40% tin)
  • 50/50 solder (50% tin)
  • 60/40 solder (60% tin
  • 63/37 solder (63% tin).

Most of the lead in use today ends up getting recycled. The International Lead Association reports that more than half the products made with lead contain recycled materials. In some countries, the organization reports, the lead recycling rate is close to 100 percent.

The EPA estimates that recycling lead-acid batteries reduces energy consumption by up to 80 percent compared to manufacturing new ones from raw materials. Recycled lead is used in products such as roofing, soundproofing and x-ray shielding – all of which help reduce energy use.

Take your lead scrap to Atlas Metals and Iron and help better the environment. Don’t lead it be.