Corrosion: types, impacts in health sector and preventive measures

Corrosion is defined as any change in the physical or chemical properties of materials (usually metals). Rust is the corrosion of iron. Since iron is mostly used metal, corrosion generally refers to rusting.

When the iron interacts with oxygen in the presence of moisture in the air, rust is formed. In other words, the atmosphere consists of both oxygen and water vapor. Thus, every iron body converts into rust in a long run.

Types of Corrosion

1. Based on the process

  • Wet Corrosion:- Based on the oxygen and humidity of the environment. Mostly this occurs in machines such as autoclave, water bath, incubator, etc.
  • Dry Corrosion:- Based on the reaction of different gases with metal at high temperatures. Mostly this occurs in machines such as muffle furnace, fume hood, etc.

2. Based on the location

  • Uniform:- This occurs at the same rate over the entire surface.
  • Localized:- This occurs at the particular site of the machine.

3. Based on the size

  • Macroscopic:- Visible to the naked eyes
  • Microscopic:- Invisible to the naked eyes

Effects of Rusting in Health Sectors

(Effects of Corrosion)

We can find rust everywhere including medical equipment in hospitals and pharmaceuticals. Water bath, stability chamber, humidity chamber, fume hood, etc., are some of the instruments which can rust quite easily. This has got a negative impact on the health sector.

  • Rusting can cause contamination of the products. If this product is consumed, it will harm human health. Similarly, if the contamination occurs in the QC and R&D rooms of the pharmaceutical companies, it will cause drug failure. Rusting in the production department will cause the failure of the manufactured drug. Even in the case of microbiology, rusting will hinder media and cultures.
  • Rusting will then cause a loss of time, money, and effort.
  • Rusting will reduce the lifespan of the machines. It may lead to early leakage from machines such as water baths, etc. Similarly, water leakage may lead to a short circuit of the electronic components.
  • It will reduce the aesthetic appearance of the materials.
  • Loss of natural resources.

Corrosion Prevention

  • Selection of the Material:- The best way to protect from corrosion is to choose the material wisely. For example, carbon steel undergoes corrosion quickly than stainless steel. If it is possible, choose material having high corrosion resistance such as stainless steel and aluminum for your medical and surgical equipment.
  • Protection from Humidity:- As we know the rise in humidity means a rise in water vapor in the environment. So, keep your machines away from the water supply. Also, keep them away from chemicals such as HCL, NaCl, etc. They can corrode the machines quickly. Due to these two reasons, I firmly believe that the corrosion rate in the Terai region (hot region) is more than in the hilly region.
  • Protective Coating:- Here in Nepal you can easily find oil-based paint coating known as ‘Enamel’, from the market. I had used it on the railings of my house about 10 years ago and I have not faced any rusting on it.

There are other methods of protecting the rust as well. Some of them are powder coating, sacrificial coating, corrosion inhibitors, design modification, etc.


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