Abstract Cement as agent for immobilising Pb from air pollution control residues is compared with the use of different silica-containing materials. The DIN 38414-S4 leaching test was used to control Pb leachability and to compare obtained Pb leachate concentrations with the landfill limit of 2 mg/l for Pb. Firstly, one scrubber residues was treated with cement and micro-silica. With cement, the Pb leachability could be reduced with a factor ranging from 3 to 50 depending on the type and amount of cement used and depending on the curing time. The landfill limit of 2 mg/l was, however, never attained. From all tested silica-containing additives, aerosil could reduce the initial Pb leaching (101.3 mg/l) to below the detection limit at a dosage of 0.13 g aerosil/g residue. Second best and an economically preferable silica-containing additive was micro-silica: a reduction from 101.3 to 0.7 mg/l was observed at a dosage of 0.4 g micro-silica/g residue. The formation of Ca-silicates was found to be responsible for the decreased Pb leachability. To generalise the findings, the Pb leachability of five cement-treated and five micro-silica-treated air pollution control residues were compared. For three scrubber residues, 2–20 times lower Pb leachate concentrations were measured for micro-silica-treated samples (cured for 5 weeks) than cement-treated samples. For a fly ash and a boiler ash the difference was, respectively, 48 and 17 times. pH-dependent leaching tests showed that at pH=2.5, Pb leaching is 250 times lower for the micro-silica-treated residue than for the cement-treated residue and almost seven times lower at pH 12.4.