The Rust and Corrosion Preventative
Commercial buildings and many residential applications look to steel and rust to provide durability and strength to construction elements. However, these materials can rust and corrode when exposed to the weather. As a result, steel companies, suppliers, and contractors rely on galvanizing plants to generate a product that is more resistant to corrosion.
Applying a Zinc Coating
The galvanizing process applies a protective zinc coating to materials made from iron or steel. Zinc is a metallic element that is more durable and resistant than either of these two metals. When used as a coating, it creates a protective barrier against rust. One way of coating materials is through hot-dip galvanizing. The parts are dipped in a large vat of super-heated zinc and left to dry.
Although this process has been considered revolutionary to the construction and fabrication industries, there have been complaints from environmentalists about the damage to environment. While there are certain levels of zinc contained in the water, air, food, and soil of the environment, many fear that excessive use of coated materials will cause these levels to rise to a toxic rate. The health effects of too much zinc in the body included skin irritation, stomach cramps, and vomiting or nausea. However, many of these fears were released prior to the EPA’s attention to industrial plant practices.
When compared to other rust inhibitors that were used prior to the galvanization process, zinc is the least harmful. Lead paint has been shown to cause significant harm to human safety, and production companies have been required to move toward a lead-free processing system. Because zinc provides longevity to building applications, it is adds to sustainable development practices. Much of the concern with environmental hazards deal with improper waste handling and recycling. However, when it is properly disposed of and the clean up practices follow regulatory conditions, galvanizing provides almost 50 years of maintenance free existence. This limits energy consumption and reduces waste.