Weathering steel as a potential source for metal contamination: Metal dissolution during 3-year of field exposure in a urban coastal site

Environ Pollut. 2016 Jun;213:571-584. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.03.001. Epub 2016 Mar 18.


Surface and building runoff can significantly contribute to the total metal loading in urban runoff waters, with potential adverse effects on the receiving ecosystems. The present paper analyses the corrosion-induced metal dissolution (Fe, Mn, Cr, Ni, Cu) from weathering steel (Cor-Ten A) with or without artificial patinas, exposed for 3 years in unsheltered conditions at a marine urban site (Rimini, Italy). The influence of environmental parameters, atmospheric pollutants and surface finish on the release of dissolved metals in rain was evaluated, also by means of multivariate analysis (two-way and three-way Principal Component Analysis). In addition, surface and cross-section investigations were performed so as to monitor the patina evolution. The contribution provided by weathering steel runoff to the dissolved Fe, Mn and Ni loading at local level is not negligible and pre-patination treatments seem to worsen the performance of weathering steel in term of metal release. Metal dissolution is strongly affected by extreme events and shows seasonal variations, with different influence of seasonal parameters on the behaviour of bare or artificially patinated steel, suggesting that climate changes could significantly influence metal release from this alloy. Therefore, it is essential to perform a long-term monitoring of the performance, the durability and the environmental impact of weathering steel.

Keywords: Atmospheric corrosion; Chloride deposition; Cor-Ten; Marine environment; PCA; Urban runoff.

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Corrosion
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Italy
  • Rain*
  • Seasons
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Solubility
  • Steel / analysis*


  • Soil Pollutants
  • Steel