What cause metals to rust?
Rust is the process of metal oxidation. It is a chemical burning undergone by iron. Rust can happen when metals are in contact with water, air, oxygen, or acids. The main catalyst of metal rust is water, because its molecule can penetrate pits in any exposed iron. When metals are exposed to the corrosion-causing agents for quite long time, some of the parts will turn into orange-colored powder, known as rust. This substance has long been blamed for some health disturbances. One of the common disease people believed to be caused by rusty metals is tetanus.
Does rusty metals cause tetanus?
Rust is oxidation of an iron. Most people believe that when you have a wound caused by rusty metals, such as a rusty nail, you are likely to suffer from tetanus. This is a deadly disease caused by bacterium called Clostridium tetani. This bacteria live in an anaerobic environment, usually surrounding the place where rusty metals are located. As to the discussion whether or not rusty metals cause tetanus, the answer is no. Rusty metals do not cause tetanus. It means, if you touch rusty irons with your bare hands, you cannot be infected by tetanus because of this.
If so, why a wound caused by rusty metals usually causes tetanus?
It is not the rust itself causing tetanus. Tetanus is caused by bacterial infection. If you ask, why a wound caused by rusty metals carries tetanus, you need to know that it is not the rust which has something to do with the disease. Instead, it is the bacteria. The spores of Clostridium tetani live in humid, dirty places, such as soil and compost. These spores can shift their habitat from the soil or manure to the powdered rust. The dry, rusted area of a metal is a suitable anaerobic area for the spores. When the spores move, this rusty metal is contaminated by the bacteria causing tetanus.
When you have a wound caused by the rusty metals, the bacteria which contaminate the rust prior to the accident migrates to your body through your open wound. When you have a puncture wound caused by a nail, for instance, it is not the rust on the nail risking you to tetanus. Instead, it is the bacteria inside the rust who do so. This bacteria soon get into your body, spread through your blood stream, ends in your nerve system. Here, during the incubating period, the bacteria release toxin that induce nervous system disturbance.
Clostridium tetani-induced nervous system disturbances will cause locked jaw, neck stiffness, body irritability, high fever, and swallowing difficulty. Prolonged pain killers use to fight these effects can cause kidney failure and heart attack, which further lead to death.
Is there another disease caused by rusty metals?
If you happen to cook with a rusty iron pan, you might wonder whether you will get cancer or food poisoning, because rust seems to be a kind of issue. In fact, cooking with a rusty pan does not necessarily put you in a risk of become poisoned. Rust in a pan or wok will be harmful only if you cook something highly acidic, and in fact, nothing you cook will be in this criterion. Thus, the iron you might be eat because of the cooking process done with a rusty pan will be excreted by your body.
However, this rusty pan will be harmful if it contains bacteria that induce tetanus infection. Yet, Clostridium tetani is rarely found in the kitchen. Thus, all you need is to scrub the rust to eliminate it from the pan so that you can cook without worries of getting infected.
If your rusty kitchen utensils are contaminated by tetanus-causing bacteria and you cook using these utensils, you are likely to be infected with the deadly disease. The bacteria, in fact can go through your digestive system and infect your body. This will start the same cycle with the one when the bacteria goes inside your body through an open wound. Therefore, it is wiser to throw your rusty pan away, rather than put yourself to the risk of the deadly tetanus.