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LEAD ROOF. WINDOW CAME. -Lead in Architecture- Nehaa Haneef Loyola University Chicago Science and Society 12-11-08. LEAD PLUMBING. STAINED GLASS. Introduction: Lead in Architecture

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-Lead in Architecture-Nehaa HaneefLoyola University ChicagoScience and Society12-11-08



Introduction: Lead in Architecture

A broad definition of architecture is designing an environment with consideration for the aesthetic appearance. There are many materials that are used when constructing a building. Early on in human history there were prominent architectural metals that were considered before the construction of buildings began. These metals are: lead, tin, zinc, copper, nickel, iron, and aluminum (“Metals in America’s Historic Buildings”, 6). The use of lead in architecture is by far the most interesting for many reasons.

There are many reasons lead was used in the construction buildings. One of the main reasons is that it was much cheaper than any of the other architectural metals out there. Its low melting point allowed for malleability, meaning it was easy to work with. This malleability is one of the reasons the use of lead became so widespread; it was easy to manufacture and it allowed those who worked with it to create intricate designs that were aesthetically pleasing. This allowed for such things as piping, moldings, window cames, sculptures and garden ornamentations (“Metals In America’s Historic Buildings”, 8).

Another way in which lead was aesthetically pleasing is when it was used as roofing on churches. The sky is reflected when the lead roof comes in contact with water. If the lead roof is oxidized, a shade of silver will result (Sublime Lead, Alanah Fitch, online edition 2003).

Another factor that contributed to the use of lead in architecture is its longevity. Lead is very durable and it took a lot for it to actually deteriorate. This means that if it was used in the construction of something, it would be a while before that thing would need to be replaced.

Once the hazards of lead were discovered, its usage became very limited. However, the buildings that were already built still stand today. These buildings need to be preserved properly so no harm can come to those residing in these buildings. If there are concerns that lead is in fact present, the building must be tested. If known that lead is present, protective measures must be taken. Lead is very hazardous to the health of human being. If the lead is in the architecture of our buildings or homes, all must be done to make sure adequate protection is present so that no one suffers from the devastating effects of lead poisoning.

Avoid Getting Lead Poisoning from Your Architecture

In the United States, older homes are likely to have lead in their architecture. Plumbing is a part of architecture and these houses usually have pipes that are made of lead. To limit lead intake from the pipes make sure that hot water is not used for drinking or cooking; the hot water causes the lead to seep into the water.

The biggest thread in architecture is the lead-based paint.. Lead was added to paint to increase its longevity and avoid corrosion. In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission prohibited the use of lead in paints. Maintenance of the paint is very important; if the paint starts to chip, the wall must be repainted. If there are paint chips on the floor, make sure to dispose of them before they end up in a child’s mouth; lead, as known to all, is very hazardous to a child’s health.

  • Uses of Lead in Architecture

  • Plumbing

  • Roofing Materials

  • -Roofing (shingles and so on)

  • -Flashings

  • -Gutters

  • -Downspouts

  • -Conductor Heads

  • Moldings

  • Window Cames

  • -Skylights

  • -Stained Glass

  • Sculptures

  • Garden Ornamentation

  • Paint

Getting Rid of the Lead

The EPA says to remove lead permanently,

an abatement contractor must be hired. The contractor

then proceeds to remove and seal any lead-based paint.

Test for Lead in Your Architecture

Not sure if lead is actually present in your architecture? There are very easy solutions for this. Lead test kits can be purchased. These kits usually contain a swab that turns pink if lead is present. However, these tests can be inaccurate so the Environmental Protection Agency recommends contacting the National Lead Information Center to find a lead-based paint professional that will come to the building and perform an inspection.

The professional will do a visual inspection of the paint. An x-ray fluorescence machine is used as well surface dust tests. Some paint samples may be taken to perform laboratory tests.


Current News

BBC news reported in May of 2008 that houses in Belgrave were victims of robberies. What did these thieves steal? Lead, from the bay windows.

Over the years the price of lead has increased in correlation with its demand. Countries that are experiencing current industrial growth have a high demand for lead.

Thieves go to great lengths to get lead from various sources. Thieves have been stealing lead from houses as well as church roofs.

There are safety measures that can be taken to prevent robbery; the easiest thing to do is to fence the area around the structure.