Saturday, February 04, 2017

What color is lead?

Remember this?

No? That is okay I doubt many people would.

Figure 1: Samples of lead (click here) solder connected to copper pipe in Flint River water with orthophosphate (left) and Detroit water (right). The white suspended particles visible in the Flint River water are tiny lead particles while the Detroit water remained clear

This picture came from an e-page of the "Flint Water Supply Study." (click here)

How many people remember this, the dirty colored water below? Two different collections of water by a Flint resident. Everyone remembers that, right? How can we forget, it is etched into our memories.

What is similar between the labs water and the water held by a resident?

The leached out lead in the lab water is white. Yes? Does lead rust? I am not the only one to ask that question. Other people wonder about that. It is a reasonable question.

This question was asked on a website by Jevyod. (click here)

I am about to venture into the world of casting! I have a friend who gave me a jar of old lead fishing weights. Out of the jar, there are several pcs that show a bit of rust. Is this lead? Also, it scratches harder than the others. So should I just chuck them?

This was the answer by Doyle.

The answer is "sort of". Many (perhaps most) metals will oxydize. Iron oxide is what you normally know as rust. Aluminum oxide is what happens to the surface of untreated aluminum. Lead oxide is a grey powdery substance that will form on the surface of uncoated lead. 

If what you are seeing is grey lead oxide, then the melting process will take care of that. If you are seeing some other color then you have some impure lead and it is the other impurities that are giving it the color. 

As to suitablitiy for casting, I'll let the experts answer that.

The blue background to the answer was removed to make it easier to read.

What leached out of the pipes in Flint, Michigan was lead. Above in the lab picture is the color of lead. White. The lead is in suspension in the water. This white particle formed in a reaction resulting in a precipitate.

Got that? Lead when exposed to a process of leaching results in white particles of lead in suspension. This white particle is called a precipitate. 

Why is the water held by the Flint resident colored other than white?

Because the brown to tan color found in the Flint water was not ONLY lead, it is a quality in water called "turbidity." I think I mentioned that last week or the week before. Turbidity happens due to water turbulence. Those bottles do not contain discernible precipitate, but, raw substances dragged into the water treatment plant from the Flint River.

It is the color of this water that alarmed not just the residents, but, me. The fact the government was not concerned about the color of the water is an attempt to side step a detailed investigation of the negligence of Governor Snyder. 

The color of the water told me the river was not capable of supplying the people of Flint a water supply without a great deal of turbulence before the water entered the inflow pipe.

The investigation of the Flint River is ongoing. There is something very wrong here. This turbid water carried organic particles that allowed the Legionnaires disease to grow and populate where people were exposed and died. 

The Flint River Water Project is ongoing.