Unsubstantiated Claim of Galvanizings Toxicity is False
Industry Transparency & Commitment to Sustainability
In an April 23, 2014 press release delivered by the paid service Global Newswire by Abakan, Inc., majority owner of MesoCoat, Inc., a maker of metal cladding and small participant in the corrosion protection industry, a reference was made to “..the highly toxic galvanizing process…” First of all, credible press agencies do not have to be paid to print/distribute newsworthy information and secondly there was no factual documentation or scientific references to indicate the claim has any merit. So, here is what we know about the hot-dip galvanizing process:
- Zinc, known as the healthy metal because it is necessary for all life from micro-organism to humans, is what is metallurgically combined with steel or iron to protect it from corrosion. Sampling since the 1920’s of galvanized steel products and projects in the real-world urban, suburban, rural, and coastal environments categorically indicates the zinc coating provides corrosion protection, and thus structural integrity for 75 years or more.
- The chemicals used to clean black steel prior to its immersion in molten zinc are either recycled within the galvanizing plant in a completely closed loop system, sent to other industries which use the spent cleaners in their own processes, or responsibly placed in holding facilities for disposal.
- Galvanizers are required to ensure all water (stormwater) leaving the property meets stringent EPA water quality standards. For example, the amount of zinc allowed in storm water is less than the amount allowed in drinking water per the EPA Department of Water.
- The air in the galvanizing plant is regularly tested to ensure workers are exposed to levels of airborne matter far below critical levels established by OSHA. Anecdotally, plant personnel are found to be far healthier than general populations because of their close proximity to the healthy metal zinc and zinc oxide it generates.
- The majority of the hot-dip galvanizing plants in the industry capture airborne emissions with a sophisticated, dust collection system. Those emissions are recycled for use as a nutrient additive in agricultural fertilizer or in the manufacture of paints.
- The low initial cost of hot-dip galvanized steel products and their excellent life-cycle cost mean a sound economic and sustainable decision is made every time they are selected. Imagine the life-cycle assessment (LCA) of a product/project that measures no environmental impact during its entire useful life (due to zero maintenance) and receives an energy credit at end-of-life because it is 100% recyclable an infinite number of times!