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Architects & Planners

II. Zinc Examined
— Architects & Planners —

II.

Zinc Examined

Under the microscope: ZINC as building material

The use of zinc sheets for roofing, facade design and as a roof drainage system is standardized, permitted nationwide and very widespread.

Nevertheless, the use of zinc as well as other materials in construction by cities and municipalities can be subject to structural requirements. There may be some design reasons for this. Occasionally, reference is also made to the removal of roofing.

Let’s examine some of the environmental properties of zinc:

Human involvement

Zinc occurs naturally in water, air and soil. By using zinc, people redistribute the element. For example, zinc is used in agricultural fertilizers. When zinc is used outdoors, small amounts of zinc are removed by the weather.

Zinc in water

Zinc is naturally found in water, since the earth’s crust contains zinc and rain and river water wash it out to a certain extent. The zinc concentration in rivers varies between less than 10 micrograms per liter and more than 200 micrograms. Among other things, it depends on the zinc content of the soil or rock from which the river originates or through which it flows. This is known as the natural “background concentration” of the zinc found in water. In water, the zinc reacts with other substances and is therefore partially bound. The binding means that organisms can absorb these zinc compounds to different extents. This mechanism is called “bioavailability”. The zinc compounds remain in the water or settle as stable phases in the sediment. (IZA, “Behavior of zinc in the environment – essentiality and bioavailability”, 2014)

Preventive water protection

Zinc levels in water do not pose a risk to the environment and health. Even if some municipalities try to reduce the amount of zinc in water in order to prevent water pollution. However, this precautionary measure is unfounded, since zinc is already present as a natural element in our waters and is a vital trace element for both animals and plants. Additional zinc inputs from applications in the construction sector therefore do not pose an increased risk. (IZA, “Behavior of zinc in the environment – essentiality and bioavailability of zinc”, 2014), (European Union Risk Assessment Report – Zinc Metal, EU Commission 2010)

Handling rainwater

Precipitation, i.e. rain and snow, is part of the natural water cycle. If precipitation gets into the soil through seepage, it is cleaned naturally, seeps into the groundwater and can thus be used for drinking water production. In order not to hinder this process and to avoid flood events, local infiltration is used for both new buildings and existing buildings.

— Architects & Planners —

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