Information on Zinc Oxide Metal Roofing


Roofers in Colorado
Rocky Mountain Architectural Metals, Inc. - Colorado Roofing Contractors

Zinc and the Environment

benifits of zincZinc is all around us and is an integral part of nature. Most rocks and many minerals contain zinc in varying degrees. It also exists naturally in air, water and soil. Zinc is also essential to human health and all living organisms.

VM ZINC is a non-poisonous and an environmentally sound product. It does not contain impurities that could be set free under atmospheric conditions or produce toxic fumes in case of fire.

When chemically aggressive rainwater (acid rain) runs over zinc surfaces, the zinc can be eroded very slowly over long periods of time. The run-off water can contain zinc ions. Since zinc is an element essential for life and most organisms show a very high zinc tolerance, such water can be used without concern. For instance, rainwater collected from VM ZINC roofs, can be used without any known problems for watering plants.

Zinc takes much less energy to refine then other metals. For instance, the energy required to produce zinc from ore is 114 that of aluminum, and 1/2 that of copper and stainless steel.

When VM ZINC products come to the end of their useful life they can be re-smelted. Due to their high metal content and ease of replacement these scraps have a high value and practically 100% recyclability. Many new zinc products are created from recycled zinc from buildings, for instance, zinc oxides used in paint, rubber production, and pharmaceutical products.

Zinc is not a Dangerous Heavy Metal

zinc oxideZinc is not the same as lead or cadmium. Zinc is not a poison. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The truth is that zinc, lead, and cadmium are all heavy metals. So what makes zinc different?

What are heavy metals?
Many people associate heavy metals with toxicity. Actually there are many types of heavy metals some that are toxic and some that are not. A metal is classified as a heavy metal when its density is greater than 5 g/CM2. Hence it is simply a physical property of the metal that puts it in the category of heavy metals, not its toxicity. Zinc has a specific gravity of 7.14 g/CM2 . For comparison iron weighs 7.87 g/CM2, so it is heavier than zinc. The titanium that is part of the VM ZINC alloy weighs only 4.51 g/CM2 and is counted as a light metal. Gold is one of the heaviest of the heavy metals with a weight of 19.32 g/CM2 and is emphatically atoxic (for instance it is used in orthodontics).

The bottom line: a heavy metal is defined through the physical property (specific gravity) and not through its toxic nature.

Why is this characteristic so often associated with the term toxic? Probably because many heavy metals are toxic. For this reason it is important to differentiate between zinc and toxic heavy metals.

The Durability of Zinc

information on zinc

If you are considering designing and building environmentally sound structures, then zinc is the perfect material for you. Zinc is safe for the environment and it has a durability and life span that are highly desirable. In short, zinc is the perfect material and the logical choice.

The industrialization of zinc began in Europe in the late 18th century and many buildings still have their original zinc roofs.

Today, the longevity of zinc as a building material is controlled mainly by the thickness of the material and the environment in which it is installed. In general, you can count on 90 to 100 years in rural areas, 40 to 70 years near the sea, and 30 to 40 years in heavy industrialized environments.

Let us do a worst case calculation, under conditions such as those found in Pittsburgh, PA in the 1950's. In this highly polluted case, the removal rate of zinc would be approximately 7 microns per year. The thinnest VM ZINC sold is .7 mm and if 40% of the material has eroded it should be replaced. This concludes: 40% of .7 = 280 microns @ 7/year = 40 years.

In most cases you may see a 6 micron loss the first year and 1-2 microns in following years. By comparing the life span of zinc to other building materials, you easily realize why zinc is a sound decision for both the environment and the longevity of your building.

In addition to its long life span, zinc is a low maintenance material. It does not have a coating or varnish that wears out over time and needs to be reapplied. In fact zinc continues to build a protective layer (patina) over time and will self repair imperfections or scratches.

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