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This study assesses the safety of stainless steels and related alloys in human health applications as a consequence of their passitivity properties, for use in day-to-day life or in biological and surgical applications.

Among the austenitic and duplex stainless steels, using electrochemical methods, it is possible to select materials not susceptible to localized corrosion in the human body. Furthermore, when testing stainless steels and passivable Ni and Co base alloys in contact with cells culture as well as in prosthesis, attractive solutions can be brought about with out damage or distress for live beings.

Conversely to pure Ni or Ni plated materials, stainless steels remain passive in sweat media and no allergic reaction is observed with the Ni-sensitised patient. Only strong re-sulphurated grades must be avoided, due to poor corrosion resistance in acid sweat.

In contact with food, stainless steels show weak ion release, in the same order of magnitude as for the food constituents themselves. Also, compatibility with drinkable water, agreeing with regulations and standards, is ensured, in spite of very severe experimental conditions.

In the field of hygiene against bacteria contagion, Cu-enriched stainless steel surfaces do not appear to be effective for a long time - due to no more diffusion from the bulk alloy after the initial consumption of the superficial Cu-enriched layer.

In a legislative frame, where European Directive 88/379/EEC on the hazards of dangerous preparations classifies alloys like stainless steels with Ni higher than 1% in the carcinogenic category C3.egory C3.

Additional information

Authors: TAMBA A, CSM, Rome (IT);CIGADA A, CSM, Rome (IT);GATTI A, CSM, Rome (IT);BAROUX B ET AL, Ugine Research Centre, Ugine (FR)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 19986 EN (2001), pp. 212. Euro: 32.50
Availability: Available from EUR-OP sales agent URL:
ISBN: ISBN 92-894-1578-9
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