Lead & the Environment
Lead for roofing, flashing, cladding, detailing and the environment
Lead has been in use as a building material throughout Europe going back to early Ancient Egyptians & Roman times. From time to time lead sheet has been subject to public concern regarding its suitability as a roofing material.
The European Lead Sheet Industry Association (ELSIA) is a federation of industry bodies across the continent, including our own Lead Sheet Association (LSA). In April ELSIA published a technical brochure to address what it termed “…public concern regarding its [lead sheet’s] suitability as a roofing material”. ELSIA’s aim, it states, is to dispel the myths and focus on the facts:
- Properly installed, handled correctly, using basic hygiene & cleanliness, Lead sheet poses no risk to the environment or people.
- Lead sheet outperforms all alternative man-made materials in its field.
- More than 95% of lead used in the manufacture of lead sheet comes from recycling.
- The relatively low melting point of lead, 327°C, means the recycling process has a minimal environmental impact.
- Lead sheet affords attractive, permanent protection against the weather.
- The proven life of lead sheet is hundreds of years.
Over the past several years the European Lead Sheet Industry Association (ELSIA) has invested in independent research to investigate the validity of public concerns.
Details of the research findings are presented in the brochure. In brief, it says that, contrary to public perception, lead sheet poses no risk to the environment, even when water run-off is taken into account. Nor, provided that it is correctly applied in compliance with standard construction industry practice, does it present any risk to human beings. Furthermore, providing simple hygienic precautions are observed, people who handle significant quantities of lead do not expose themselves to occupational health risks. Finally, all the alternative products are more damaging to the environment than lead sheet and have a higher total cost.
“The aim of ELSIA is to confront any negative perceptions surrounding the use of lead sheet and to inform the public using well-founded research,” said ELSIA chairman Ben Travers. “Many people just don’t realise that lead sheet used for roofing is both safe and very green – it is highly durable and is recycled time after time. Lobbyists for alternative products with shorter lives – and that cannot be recycled – are ill-informed, and we should try to redress that.”
Lead roofs have been proven to offer an attractive well styled elegant finish over any other roofing product with permanent protection against weather. These lead roofs have been proven to last well over one hundred years as long as the correct codes and fixings are used and are far more cost effective over a longer period of time.