Anodizing and the Environment
Anodizing’s environmental friendliness and relative safety are among it’s best properties, in this age of increasing concern for human protection and the quality of our land, water and air.
Anodizing uses simple water-based chemicals that can be treated easily and that release no harmful by-products. The liquid by-products are recycled and returned to the process. Solid by-products can be isolated and diverted for use in the manufacture of alum, baking powder, cosmetics, newsprint, fertilizer and water purification systems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which heavily regulates the production and use of solvent-based paints and fluoropolymer finishes containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), regards anodizing as an environmentally friendly process.
Anodizing does create a by-product composed primarily of aluminum hydroxide, some aluminum sulfate and water. It is harmless because it contains no significant amounts of heavy metals. In some cases, municipal sewage treatment plants benefit from these by-products by using them as filters in the secondary treatment of sewage.
Anodizing plants are well ventilated and workers are carefully trained in the use of acidic materials and processes. In general, however, no extraordinary precautions are needed to ensure worker safety, employees only need to wear a minimum of special protective clothing, and no expensive, heavy safety equipment is required.