Zinc is the fourth most widely used metal after steel, aluminum and copper in the world. Due to its resistance to non-acidic atmospheric corrosion zinc is instrumental in extending the life of buildings, vehicles, ships and steel goods and structures of every kind.
Zinc is a bluish-white lustrous metal. It is normally covered with a white coating on exposure to the atmosphere. Zinc dust is flammable when exposed to heat and burns with a bluish-green flame. Zinc also exists in many compounds. Zinc has a role in normal human growth, taste, and sperm development, but exposure to high levels of zinc through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact can cause adverse health effects.
Zinc is used for alloys, electroplating, metal spraying, electrical fuses, batteries, rubber, paint, glue and matches. Zinc is registered as a fungicide, herbicide, and rodenticide. The primary stationary sources of zinc are electric services, petroleum refining, crude petroleum and natural gas extraction, manufacturing of fabricated rubber products, manufacturing of fabricated metal heating and plumbing products, and manufacturing of inorganic chemicals. Indoor sources include infiltration of outdoor air, smoking, cooking, and other indoor sources. The average indoor concentration of zinc is normally slightly higher than the outdoor level. Zinc occurs naturally in the earth's crust.
Substitutes: Aluminum, steel, and plastics substitute for galvanized sheet. Aluminum, plastics, and magnesium are major competitors as diecasting materials. Plastic coatings, paint, and cadmium and aluminum alloy coatings replace zinc for corrosion protection; aluminum alloys are used in place of brass. Many elements are substitutes for zinc in chemical, electronic, and pigment uses.
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