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Is Galvanized Steel Toxic? (All You Need to Know)

Steel is one of the most used metals in our day-to-day life. Besides, galvanized steel is more protective than normal steel because it contains a protective zinc coating on steel. The galvanizing process is useful for preventing rust and other environmental effects.

But you might be confused about whether galvanized steel is toxic or not. Generally, we use galvanized steel in different uses including household, kitchen wares, food storage, etc. So, knowing about the toxicity of galvanized steel is essential.

Moreover, you also have to know the consequences of using galvanized steel for a long time.

Is galvanized steel toxic?

Generally, galvanized steel is not toxic if you use it for storage and general purposes. But if you use it with heat, the zinc coating on the galvanized steel might release fumes. So, this zinc fume or coating can be toxic for humans and animals. So, you should use galvanized steel carefully.

So, you might understand that whether galvanized steel is toxic or not depends on the purpose you are using the steel. Let’s see in which aspect galvanized steel is toxic.

When heated:

Galvanized steel can be highly toxic when heated. Generally, the manufacturer coats the galvanized steel with zinc coating for protection while manufacturing. This zinc will release when you heat the steel.

The zinc fume is highly toxic for humans and animals to inhale. Even inhaling this zinc fume can cause instant medical issues.

To touch:

Galvanized steel is not toxic to touch. When you touch galvanized steel, it means you are touching the outer zinc layer of the galvanized steel.

Generally, zinc is not poisonous to touch. So, it will not cause any harm if you touch galvanized steel or use it for general purposes.

To weld:

During welding, galvanized steel can cause high toxicity. Even, the welder can face complex health problems if he doesn’t take necessary protection while welding.

Because when you weld the galvanized steel, the metal is melted and zinc fume is produced. This zinc fume is highly poisonous.

Sometimes, galvanized steel hardware cloth is welded for the construction and building process. So, you should take the necessary protection before welding.

To plants:

Galvanized steel is completely safe to use for plants. Generally, zinc is one of the soil ingredients and is safe for plants. So, while used for gardening, the zinc coating of galvanized steel doesn’t cause any harm to plants.

Moreover, when you use galvanized steel in plants, it doesn’t get heat to provide fume. So, it’s safe to use galvanized steel for plants.

To fish:

Galvanized steel is not completely safe to use to fish. Generally, galvanized steel contains zinc. Zinc is not a safe element for fish.

If fishes inhibit the excessive amount of zinc, it can be harmful. Moreover, using the galvanized tank for fish can cause aquaponic problems in fish.

To birds:

Galvanized steel is not safe for birds. Generally, if you use galvanized steel wires to make cages of birds or food containers, it can cause high toxicity for the birds.

Especially, galvanized steel containing zinc is considered super toxic for parrots. So, you should not use galvanized steel around birds.

To turtles:  

Generally, galvanized steel is safe to use for turtles if the turtles don’t attempt to consume it. Because the zinc-containing galvanized steel can be toxic to turtles if they consume the zinc coating.

So, for being on the safe side, you should not use galvanized steel for turtles.

Can galvanized steel make you sick?

Whether galvanized steel can make you sick or not depends on how you are using the steel. Generally, if you use it for external use only, it will cause no harm.

For example, if you are using galvanized steel for general uses in your house that doesn’t come close to food or consuming it, it will not make you sick.

But if you use galvanized steel for any purpose that is related to heating or consuming, it is not safe. For example, if you use galvanized steel for cooking, the heat might release zinc fume. This fume is not safe at all and can make you sick instantly.  

Moreover, if you use this steel for food storage in a warm place, it can release zinc fume. So, consuming zinc fume produced by the galvanized steel can be toxic. But if you use it for a garden, or in the cool areas, it will be safe to use.

Is galvanized steel pipe toxic? Is there lead in galvanized steel?

Generally, galvanized steel pipe is not toxic if you use it for general purposes. But if you use it for flowing drinking water, it can be toxic and harmful.

Because galvanized steel has zinc coating. So, if you use it for drinking water supply, the zinc surface and corrode and get mixed into the drinking water.

So, it can be highly poisonous to use the water for drinking. But actually, the zinc in the galvanized steel doesn’t provide toxicity directly.

Generally, zinc in galvanized steel contains lead and cadmium. These two metals get mixed with zinc during the galvanizing process. These elements are highly toxic to inhale or consume for humans and animals.

So, galvanized steel can contain lead and cadmium that make it toxic to use in the pipes.

What temperature does galvanized steel become toxic?

Generally, 392 degrees Fahrenheit is considered the toxicity releasing temperature for galvanized steel. Above this temperature, the fumes of galvanized steel are highly toxic. Generally, zinc fume is released when we weld or heat the galvanized steel.

When the galvanized steel is at a lower temperature, generally, it doesn’t cause zinc fume to release. But it can be still toxic if the galvanized steel is heated. Because zinc-containing lead and cadmium can get released by other means.

Besides, if you heat the galvanized steel above 392 degrees Fahrenheit, it can be toxic. For example, if you use galvanized steel for the fire pit, the fume released from the fire pit will be poisonous.

Why is galvanized steel poisonous?

Galvanized steel is considered poisonous for different reasons. So, let’s see why galvanized steel is poisonous.

Zinc coating:

Using a zinc coating on the steel is the main purpose for galvanizing. In the galvanizing process, zinc coating is provided to keep the steel protected. But this zinc coating can be highly dangerous when the steel is heated.

Heated or welded galvanized steel release toxic gas containing zinc. This zinc fume is dangerous for health and the environment.

Lead and cadmium:

The zinc in the galvanized steel also contains lead and cadmium metals. These metals are added to the galvanized steel during the manufacturing process.

So, these metals will get mixed in the water if you use galvanized steel in the water pipe. So, the water can be poisonous for use of galvanized steel.

Deposits of galvanized steel:

If you use galvanized steel for food storage, cooking, or water container, the deposits will release in the food and water. This will cause poisoning in humans and animals.

Is it safe to grow vegetables in galvanized steel?

Yes, it is safe to grow vegetables in galvanized steel. Galvanized steel is safe to use for gardening.

Generally, galvanized steel contains zinc metal. Zinc is a natural constitute of soil. Moreover, zinc is pretty essential for the growth of plants. So, if you grow vegetable plants in the galvanized steel, the zinc in galvanized steel will not do any harm to the plants.

Moreover, if the zinc is released from the container of vegetable plants, it will be helpful. Moreover, zinc has little or no effect on vegetable plants. So, using galvanized steel for growing vegetables is safe.

Do galvanized pipes cause cancer?

You can’t directly tell that galvanized pipe will cause cancer. But it can indirectly be responsible for lead poisoning that is one of the reasons for cancer.

For example, if you use galvanized pipes in the water supply, the galvanized pipes can corrode. If the pipe corrodes, the zinc of the galvanized steel will leach out. This zinc contains lead metal in it that gets mixed during the galvanizing process.

You might know that consuming lead for a long time can cause cancer. So, if you use galvanized pipes for a long time, it can cause lead poisoning.

That’s why you can’t tell directly that the galvanized pipe is responsible for cancer. But it can induce cancer gradually and indirectly.

Final Thoughts

Galvanized steel is pretty convenient to use in our everyday life. But using it for different purposes need concern. Because galvanized steel can release zinc fume while heating or welding. Zinc fume can cause toxicity for humans & animals. That’s why galvanized steel is considered toxic sometimes.