Keeping Corrosion Costs Down

June 17, 2010

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Corrosion often carries exorbitant costs to the affected structures. Metal or steel structures, in particular, are vulnerable to the damages of corrosion. Loss of structural integrity, the lessening of useful life, and, worse, severe disruption to the services they render, are but some of the major effects of corrosion to metal structures. Considering further that metal structures are often used as components for major infrastructures in the transportation, production, manufacturing, government and other sectors of the country, the economic cost of corrosion is one that cannot be ignored indeed.

In a 1970 study by Battelle-NBS, the cost of corrosion was calculated at $70 billion per year. This amount was 4.2% of the nation’s gross national product (GNP) then. The most recent study on corrosion cost revealed that it has ballooned to $276 billion per year! This cost is so high that it amounts to 3.1% of the country’s current gross domestic product (GDP).

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), tasked to carry out the systematic study to calculate corrosion impact to the economy, has partnered with NACE International, representatives of Congress, and the U.S. Department of Transportation to assess and provide ways to minimize this cost.

To lower the economic impact of corrosion, the FHWA recommends the following:

1. Unify the corrosion control and prevention efforts under one driving body, such as the National Research Council.

2. Corrosion control and prevention efforts should be done on a nation-wide scale.

3. Policies and corrosion management should be developed.

4. Increase the technological advances for corrosion cost-savings.

5. Effective implementation of corrosion control strategies.

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