Optimum protection with lead
Lead is an element that possesses unique properties. Thin layers of it protect buildings against the weather and people against X-rays. It is also used to protect against corrosion in the chemical and metal industries.
Lead is not only a particularly dense material that can be shaped easily; it also has a low melting point. This means that relatively little energy is used in its production. Its high level of recycling makes lead an extremely efficient material in ecological and economic terms.
On the following page you’ll learn how lead forms a part of our everyday life, what its environmental advantages are and what health standards are applied to working with lead.
Information on the sustainability of lead:
In a world without lead …
… Cologne Cathedral wouldn’t have a roof. Vehicles wouldn’t start without lead acid batteries. And lots of things would be more complicated or more expensive: for example, radionuclides for treating tumours can be shielded most easily and reliably using lead, both in their manufacture and transportation.
What is lead’s secret? It has uniquely advantageous properties, yet it is very economical to extract, process and recycle. This is why its strengths can be exploited in many fields:
- Thanks to its high specific density, lead can be used for shielding against X-rays, gamma and electromagnetic radiation and for noise insulation.
- Its UV- and weather resistance and its unique cold-forming properties make lead the perfect material for roofs and facades.
- Its high weight stabilises buildings and machinery.
- Its corrosion resistance makes it ideal for corrosion protection purposes in metal production, electroplating and the chemical industry.
Overview Physical properties of lead:
|Relative atomic mass:||207,21|
|Crystal structure:||Face-centred cubic|
|Density at 20˚C||11,336 kg/dm3|
|Volume contraction on solidification||3.1 percent by volume|
|Linear thermal coefficient of expansion||20-100˚C 29.1*10-6 1/˚C|
|at 0˚C||34,67 W/mk|
|at 100˚C||33,83 W/mk|
|Specific electrical resistance|
|at 20˚C||20,65 µΩcm|
|Brinell Hardness Number|
|Vickers Hardness Number HV 1/30:||3,2-4,7|
|Non-flammable building material class A1|
Safety and hygiene take priority
Lead plays a key role in many aspects of daily life. Its use as a material for roofs and façades has been proven over centuries, and its significance in the medical and safety engineering field continues to grow.
Risk-laden applications in drinking water pipes or as a fuel additive are a thing of the past. Today lead is one of the most well-researched and controlled construction metals. In its compact metallic form, lead poses no risk to health.
To work with lead correctly, some simple rules of hygiene should be observed:
- the use of gloves when working with lead ensures a firm grip as well as protecting against injury or contamination.
- Swallowing lead particles, compounds or solutions must be avoided. It is important to always wash hands thoroughly before meals and prior to smoking.
- The inhalation of lead dust and vapour must be avoided. Welding or soldering should only be done outdoors or in well ventilated rooms, therefore. A mask must be worn in areas where dust and smoke are produced.
- Contaminated workwear should be stored and washed separately from other textiles.
- Surface treated lead sheet products are not only available in a wide range of finishes and colours, but also provide additional safety during working thanks to their hygienic sealing.
- Lead is a compact, heavy material. Rolls weighing in excess of 25 kg should never be moved by just one person.
You’ll find further information on working with lead in Technical Regulation TRGS 505.
The production processes at Röhr + Stolberg are subject to strict hygiene and health standards in accordance with OHSAS 18001, which go beyond the statutory provisions. As a member of the European Lead Sheet Industry Association (ELSIA), Röhr + Stolberg already complies with the stringent requirements of its Code of Practice for Product Stewardship.
We will be happy to advise you regarding any questions you may have about health and hygiene.
Environment & Sustainability: A perfect cycle
Lead is an extremely sustainable material in many respects. Thanks to its very long service life, the metal is ideally suitable for use on buildings that should require as little maintenance as possible over long periods. Many historical buildings have lead roofs or facades that have remained in good condition for centuries.
At the same time, lead is one of the construction metals with the highest recycling quota in Europe. The rate of lead recovery is nearly 100 percent, putting it at the top of the list of non-ferrous metals.
More than 90 percent of the lead used by Röhr + Stolberg is recycled. Rolled lead products for the construction industry even consist entirely of recycled lead, gaining them the coveted Environmental Product Declaration of the Institute Construction and Environment e.V. (IBU).
Röhr & Stolberg takes care to choose suppliers who trade in conformity with the relevant laws and in an environmentally responsible manner, and apply an ethical labour policy. The lead used is procured exclusively from producers with the latest smelter and filter technology. For coating applications, Röhr + Stolberg uses materials that guarantee full recovery of the metal. Recycling is a big plus factor for the environment: damage caused by mining is avoided, as are long transport routes. Harmful waste materials are eliminated.
Röhr + Stolberg attaches great importance to production processes that are environmentally and climate-friendly. The entire process chain is certified in accordance with the environmental standard DIN EN ISO 14001. Due to lead’s low melting point of 327 degrees Celsius, the energy required to process it is lower than for many other construction metals. An energy data management system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 50001 controls optimal energy consumption. Lead waste arising during production at Röhr + Stolberg is returned to the material cycle in the company’s own recycling plant.
Thanks to a unique combination of properties, and performance characteristics that span energy efficiency, carbon footprint, socio-economics, raw material security, as well as technical function, lead is the only suitable material in the many applications and industries essential to EU society and the economy. Lead Matters is a collaborative campaign which showcases this essentiality. Developed by the Lead (Pb) REACH Consortium (PbRC), a voluntary initiative managed by the International Lead Association (ILA), it supports over 40 sectors in highlighting the vital, safe and sustainable use of lead in their industries. On the website Lead Matters | A Prosperous & Environmentally Neutral Future, you can learn more about the social benefits and the important role of of lead in the circular economy. https://leadmatters.org/