Making Steel - Hazardous, Toxic, Not Green
Mining for Coal & Iron
Surface coal & iron strip mines extract the materials needed to make steel, and result in deforestation and the contamination of soil & water.
Coal is fed into a coke oven, cooked & then cooled with water, resulting in large amounts of polluted water.
In a blast furnace, coke, iron, heated air and limestone are fed through the top of the furnace as air is blown into the bottom, which yeilds molten iron, slag and toxic gases.
Coke and Iron Furnaces
Coke and molten iron production also release flue and coke oven gases containing sulfurous gas, nitrogen oxide and large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Pure oxygen is blown across the molten iron to burn off dissolved carbon, giving off carbon monoxide & dioxide.
Burnt lime or dolomite are fed into the vessel to remove impurities in the steel, resulting in a waste product of lime & iron impurities called slag.
The resulting steel is most often cast into slabs, beams or billets, sent to steel foundries to be re-melted poured into molds.
Steel working conditions, while much safer than those only 50 years ago, still endure prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures & poisonous gases.