Photograph of  really worn out asphalt roof shingles Lead Roofing Metal Uses & Effects

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This article describes the effects of using lead roofing products and metals. Also see METALS USED IN ROOFING and see our metal roofing home page, METAL ROOFING.

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Effects of Lead in Roofing Systems

Lead Coated Copper and Health Effects:

... modern terne-coated stainless steel or lead-coated copper might produce a more durable yet visually compatible replacement roofing. [2]

"Lead Coated Copper Metal (LCC): A Case Study of Public Health Addressing Regulatory Gaps", Thomas Plant, MS, Leon Bethune, MPH, John Shea, MS, Paul A. Shoemaker, MPH, Jose R. Diaz, John W. Weathers, and Charles Mba, MS. Environmental Health Office, Boston Public Health Commission, 1010 Massachusetts Ave, 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02118, 617-534-2644, 2007 Abstract:

Lead coated copper (LCC) has become popular as a stain free replacement for copper in large renovation and new construction projects. The Boston Public Health Commission investigated the home of a child with an elevated blood lead level (EBLL) of 11ug/dl. LCC was used on the roof, flashing, and a wall around the ground floor patio.

The condominium interior was free of lead hazards. Sampling found lead dust levels of 224,377 mgs/ft2 wiped from the wall, 36, 441 mg/ft2 on patio, 79,400 mgs/ft2 under the roof drip line, and 11,517 mgs/ft2 at a roof drain to the patio indicating that the LCC was the probable source of the EBLL. Roof areas receiving runoff from the LCC had high lead levels while others had low levels. This presented a unique problem because LCC is not paint and thus not addressed by the Massachusetts Lead Law.

Using the Massachusetts Public Health Nuisance Laws, an Abatement Order was issued to remove the LCC, but stayed for six months pending study by all parties. The LCC wall was removed, but roof runoff still contaminated the patio and building perimeter.

An encapsulant paint is being investigated to abate lead hazards by covering the LCC roofing. A survey found widespread use of LCC in Boston buildings including hospitals, universities, daycare centers, libraries, office buildings, hotels, and residences.

A Public Health Advisory was issued, the manufacturer removed LCC from the market, and city policy was developed to restrict the use of LCC on city-owned buildings.

Several queries about the effects of lead in roofing systems led us to find this 2002 Q&A offered by NRCA's Jack Robinson, RRC., Quoting:

Question: What are the advantages of using lead or lead-coated copper when installing standing-seam metal roof systems? Are there any government regulations that prohibit or limit the use of lead or lead-coated copper in roof systems? Also, will water that runs off a roof system made from either of these materials pollute groundwater?

Answer: Lead is a soft, common metal with several properties that are useful in roofing applications. Lead-coated copper is copper sheeting coated with lead on one or both sides.

Because lead is malleable, it easily is shaped at relatively low temperatures (70 F [21 C]) without the need for periodic annealing to soften the lead and make it workable. Lead sheets can be manipulated readily with hand tools and formed into complicated shapes. When used for flashings, lead sheets can be formed and adjusted easily in the field to accommodate substrate irregularities.

Lead also is corrosion-resistant. When left exposed, it develops a silver-gray patina that is insoluble in water. Because of the patina's insolubility, rainwater runoff over a weathered lead surface carries little lead or lead-based chemicals. Water runoff from lead surfaces will not cause stains to be deposited on adjacent building materials, such as stone, masonry or cladding.

Lead-coated copper has several advantages when used to form metal roof systems. It provides a durable finish that can be left exposed or painted, and lead coating is more compatible with paint than other metals. Lead-coated copper also is lighter than lead sheets, which reduces roof panels' weight contribution to a roof assembly's dead load. Lead-coated copper, unlike copper, won't stain adjacent materials. It also is easier to form than plain copper because the lead coating acts as a lubricant.

Both lead and lead-coated copper are durable roofing materials with longer estimated service lives than other common steep-slope roof coverings.

In recent years, publicity regarding the toxicity of lead-based paint has been widespread. Many people incorrectly have assumed any exposed lead is a potential health hazard or pollutant.

As previously stated, exposed lead sheets and lead-coated copper are not significantly soluble in water. The same property that prevents lead from depositing stains on adjacent materials also prevents lead or lead-based compounds from being washed off a roof system's surface and carried into groundwater.

Some manufacturers of lead roof coverings have attempted to respond to the public's concerns by providing calculations of lead contamination for specific projects. These calculations take into account a roof system area that will contribute to watershed, estimated average amount of rainfall at a project's location and lead's corrosion rate.

Several of these calculations indicate that the contribution of lead to groundwater attributable to water runoff from a lead roof system is one to two parts per trillion. The level at which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes restrictions for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion (approximately 15,000 times less than the amount of lead contamination attributable to water runoff from a lead roof system).

According to EPA representatives, there are no regulations that restrict or prohibit the use of lead or lead-coated copper in roof systems. However, should a question arise about a specific project, contact your regional EPA office for additional information. A list of EPA's 10 regional offices can be obtained from EPA's Web site,

Additionally, some states may have regulations governing lead usage. To determine whether your state has specific requirements that regulate or prohibit the use of lead or lead-coated copper roof systems, contact your state's environmental protection agency.

You should be aware there is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard that applies to those who work with lead—"The OSHA Guide to Occupational Standard for Lead (General Industry)." For information about this standard, contact Ken Brown, NRCA's director of risk management, at (847) 299-9070, Ext. 262.Web search 09/29/2010, - original source:

Articles on Lead Hazards In and Around the Home


Metal Roofing Sources, Products, & Manufacturers

Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction lists these producers and sources of metal roofing, metal roof fastening systems, and related metal roofing products

  • Classic Products, website:
    Modular metal shingle panels and standing seam panels
  • Decra Roofing Systems, website:
    Modular metal shingle, tile, and shake panels
  • Dura-Lok Roofing Systems, website:
    Modular metal roofing shingles with granular coating
  • Fabral, website:
    Exposed fastener and concealed clip metal roofing panels
  • Follansbee Roofing, Follansbee WV 26037, Tel: 800-624-6906, website: - Terne II discussed at [1]
  • Gerard Roofing Technologies, website:
    Modular metal shake and tile panels with granular coating
  • Met-Tile, website:
    Modular metal roof-tile panels
  • Atas International, website:
    Modular metal shingle, tile, and standing-seam panels
  • Custom-Bilt Metals, website:
    Modular metal shakes and standing seam panels

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.


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