Lead is a heavy, low-value metal available only from galena ore. Lead is not magma-safe, or even fire-safe, and will melt in a grass fire.
Lead can be forged into furniture and other objects, like most metals, but its low value and high weight may make it a poor choice for personal objects or anything portable, respectively. However, lead items that are not weapons or armor are just as strong as those of any other metal - a lead chain or bridge is exactly as strong as a steel bridge, even against a dragon or a building destroyer.
Rare moods might result in a lead weapon or lead armor - and material strength is considered in combat, as well as weapon weight. Lead armor would not be a good result (it's so fragile it can literally be torn apart by a normal human's bare hands), but a lead mace could be very nice.)
Lead can also be used to make massive minecarts to send crashing into goblin invaders. What fun!
If you have a surplus of it, lead can be semi-useful for decorating objects and training metal crafters; lead crafts may be traded for a value of 100☼ or more, depending upon quality.
Lead can be alloyed with copper and tin to produce lay pewter.
In adventure mode, lead items (or items made of other heavy material) tend to stay close to their original position upon reclaim. So if you want to find the item easily, make it out of lead, or place it in a lead bin.
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Since lead poisoning does not (yet) exist in Dwarf Fortress, trading lead barrels and crafts only weighs down the caravan. This, unfortunately, eliminates the possibility of lead poisoning the elves or humans through trade of lead-based crafts and lead-laced alcohol. However, if your dwarves happen to be irradiated as a result of an unfortunate accident, lead coffins are a safe and practical way to ensure the remains are properly contained.