Characteristics of zinc

Zinc is among the most sustainable metals used in construction today and has been used on the roofs of Paris for almost 200 years. Zinc is an essential element for life.  Below we provide information on zinc and living organisms plus the composition of zinc.

Zinc and life

Zinc and living organisms

Zinc is an essential element for all living organisms. Zinc is necessary and indispensable for human, animal and plant life.

There is an optimal zinc concentration range for each living organism. Within this concentration range, living organisms can regulate their internal concentration in order to meet the requirements of their metabolism.

If these optimal conditions are not met and there is a deficit, zinc deficiency can result, likewise, in the event of excess, ecotoxicological problems arise.

Human beings are not usually exposed to an excess of zinc but they can experience zinc deficiencies.

Zinc and human beings

Zinc is an essential element. It is an important metal element for humankind as it ranks 3rd, after magnesium and iron.

Zinc plays an essential role in health. It is essential for growth, brain development, protecting the skin, the proper functioning of the immune system, digestion, reproduction, taste, smell and many other natural processes.

The human body is unable to synthesise the zinc it needs. It therefore draws zinc from its food. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a daily zinc intake of 10 mg/day for children, 12 mg/day for women and 15 mg/day for men. Certain population groups have a higher zinc requirement and are therefore more at risk of zinc deficiency: children and adolescents, pregnant women, elderly people, etc.

The main symptoms related to the risk of deficiency are: a reduction in the senses of taste and smell, skin problems, mental lethargy and a reduction in fertility.

Variety in a person's diet depends primarily on their culture and standard of living. Since the amount of zinc varies according to the type of food, on a global scale many adults and children have a diet that is too low in zinc. In developing countries, zinc deficiency ranks 5th among the leading 10 risk factors for human health; the World Health Organisation (WHO) attributes 800,000 deaths worldwide each year to zinc deficiency and over 28 million healthy life years lost (¹).

Zinc and ecotoxicology

Zinc is naturally present in the environment: rocks, soil, water and air have always naturally contained variable concentrations of it. During the course of their evolution, all living organisms have used the zinc available in their environment for specific functions of their metabolism. So, zinc is an essential element, which is necessary and indispensable for all living organisms in all ecosystems.

Living organisms are adapted to the natural concentration of zinc in their ecosystem. Furthermore, they have developed mechanisms to maintain optimum living conditions when this concentration level varies from the natural norm. But if the zinc concentration radically changes, living conditions are no longer optimum and the functioning of the ecosystem can be affected.

Fortunately, zinc concentrations in European ecosystems, originating either from human activities (such as atmospheric corrosion of rolled zinc and galvanised steel, wear and tear of vehicle tyres, fertilisers and animal feed, etc) or natural emissions (mainly from the earth's volcanic activity), remain within the limits of optimal living conditions. A good example of this is the current levels of zinc in the Rhine (extreme values from 3 to 25 µg/L) which are within the optimal range for zinc (²,³).

(¹) International Zinc Association (IZA) - Zinc guide 2003
(²) " L'impact du zinc et de ses composés sur l'homme et l'environnement ", P.Ciarletta et F.Van Assche, Colloque CEFRACOR - Le centre du zinc - Saint-Ouen - mars 1993.
(³) "Zinc in the environment", International Zinc Association, 1997 Edition

Composition of Zinc

Top performing alloy

Composition of alloy 

Our rolled zinc is alloyed with copper and titanium to produce a material with optimum mechanical and physical characteristics for building applications, particularly with regard to mechanical resistance and creep resistance.

It is composed of very high quality zinc Z1 (99,995% pure zinc), as defined by the EN 1179 standard, to which titanium and copper are added. Copper increases the mechanical resistance of the alloy, making it harder and stronger.

Titanium increases creep resistance permitting greater thermal expansion and contraction, of the material without causing metal fatigue.

EN988 norm

The European Standard EN 988 has been applied since 1997 in 18 European countries. This standard imposes very stringent specifications for the composition of rolled zinc and its physical, mechanical and dimensional characteristics, which make it an international reference.

Physical properties of titanium zinc by VMZINC
Density7.2 kg/dm³
Thermal expansion coefficient (parallel to the rolling direction)0.022 mm/m/°C
Melting point420°C
Recrystallization point300°C
Heat conductivity110 W/(m.K)
Electrical conductivity17 MS/m
Danger of sparkingNon-sparking
Magnetic propertiesDiamagnetic


An Environmental Product Declaration is an internationally recognised document containing environmental information on a building product.

Surface Finishes

VMZINC is an elegant partner for many building materials. Available in 10 pre-weathered finishes as well as mill finish Natural Zinc. Highly flexible, malleable and durable. Zinc can be embossed, perforated and incorporate texture helping to create imaginative designs.