[strawbale] railway sleepers

Rob Gort, Bouwcarrousel BV r.gort at bouwcarrousel...
Sat Feb 25 13:09:10 CET 2006

Re-use of waste-products in the building sector is my profession. I've read
the discussion of the past weeks which lots of interest.
It's good to see how everyone's looking to find environmentally & healthy
building solutions! This is really a great forum with great people, I feel
encouraged every time, knowing so many people / builders (both skilled
amateurs & professionals) around the world are worried about the same
environmental & health issues and working together, each at his or her
place, towards a better future & beautifull, natural and liveable planet.

In The Netherlands we do have lots of experience in it, and also in making
adequate policies / rules about what materials can be re-used, under what
circumstances, how they should be treated, in what quantities they can be
re-used, and so on. We do also have solutions for materials which are
considered to be environmentally dangerous because of leaching etc.
I'm sure other Western European countries 'll have regulations for these
questions as well, but probably not as far developed as they are in The
Netherlands (this has to do with the fact, that re-use and recycling are
quite common practices in the Netherlands for more than 10 years already,
and that we do have a densely populated country, with water everywhere).
Unfortunately, the Dutch documents are only available in Dutch, otherwise
it'd be easy to take notice of them.

* About car tyres in a foundation: leaching won't be much of a problem in my
opinion (first because of the water resistancy of the material itself,
secondly because of the fact that they 'll be kept dry - at least this is
what you should do), exhalation from gases & vapours could be a problem. If
you ventilate your fundation this 'll do. In my opinion, when you 'd sell
the house or leave the house to your children / the next generation, you
should tell them that whenever the house is left, the car tyres should be
taken out apart / out of the environment and should be recycled, landfilled
according to the highest standards available at that time. You should also
do this with all other materials and equipment which are being used in the
house, which are not biological or nature-alike. It'd be best to make a
small saving for this purpose; in this way you don't create a problem for
the future.
* About railway sleepers: there are indeed considered environmentally toxic.
In The Netherlands they are either landfilled under very controlled
conditions (no leaching at all to the surrounding & underlying environment)
or burnt in special waste plants under also very controlled conditions. They
can also be redimensioned, by sawing slices. The core material is quite ok,
the outside slices can be landfilled or burnt as mentioned above. If you'd
like to use railway sleepers under your house, you should, more than in the
case of car tyres, be aware of exhalation and (for some extent) leaching.
Here also the leaching is quite limited because of the water resistancy of
the material).

Best regards, succes with building
Rob Gort

----- Original Message -----
From: "rikki nitzkin" <rnitzkin at hotmail...>
To: <strawbale at amper....muni.cz>
Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 8:06 AM
Subject: RE: [strawbale] railway sleepers

> I understand about being careful about health issues is important, but to
> environmentally conscious about re-using materials is important too.  What
> should we do with all this waste material if we don't re-use it?  If
> re-using it may further damage the earth we should be aware (as it seems
> be the case of re-using tyres), but how much of a risk to our health can
> be to use these materials in the foundations of our houses.  I can't
> living in an earth-ship made with tyre walls, but I don't think I 'd worry
> about them being under the floor...and as for old, used water treated
> if most of the harmful materials have been washed off...and even if they
> haven't they are still going to continue "leeching" wherever they are,
> aren't they?
> Rikki Nitzkin
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