Lead carbonate, normal

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A grayish-white, crystalline mineral called cerussite that is one of the primary types of [[lead] ore. Cerussite is mined in Australia, Europe, and the U.S.(Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho). Cerussite can be formed by the action of ground water on galena (lead sulfide) ore. Although basic lead carbonate has been used as a white pigment since ancient times, it was made synthetically and not obtained from the naturally occurring cerussite ore. In fact, cerussite has rarely been used as a white pigment although it is occasionally found as an impurity in basic lead carbonate (Gettens, Kuhn and Chase 1993).

Synonyms and Related Terms

cerussite; blanco de plomo, albayalde (Esp.); carbonate de plomb (Fr.); Bleicarbonat (Deut.); Cerrusit (Deut.); loodcarbonaat (Ned.)

Other Properties

Effervesces in nitric acid. Insoluble in water and ethanol. Turns black in the presence of sulfur fumes. Fluoresces yellow to golden color.

High birefringence. Interference color are third order or greater. Complete extinction.

Composition PbCO3
CAS 598-63-0
Mohs Hardness 3.0 - 3.5
Density 6.55
Refractive Index 1.803; 2.074; 2.076

Hazards and Safety

Toxic by inhalation or ingestion. Skin contact may cause irritation or ulcers.

Carcinogen, teratogen, suspected mutagen.

Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Additional Information

R.J.Gettens, H. Kuhn, W.T. Chase, "Lead White", Artists Pigments, Volume 2, A. Roy (ed.), Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1993.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004 Comment: Vol. 2, page 299
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 444
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics, Ashok Roy (ed.), National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Vol. 2, 1993 Comment: R.J.Gettens, H. Kuhn, W.T. Chase, "Lead White"