Gauteng pollution is so bad it is rusting cars

A corrosion mapping project by Wits University has revealed high levels of rust-related damage in South Africa caused by air pollution.

According to a report by the Sunday Times, the pollution is causing “steel corrosion rates similar to those in coastal provinces”. Coastal rust is caused by the high levels of salt in the air coming off the ocean.

Power stations, refineries, factories, and fuel emissions are said to be the main contributors to the pollution.

The study revealed the “rustiest” places in the country thanks to sea air, and then ranked locations inland which experienced rust damage as a result of pollution.

The following mild steel corrosion rates were found:


  • Melkbosstrand – 460 microns per year
  • Salisbury Island – 134 microns per year
  • Congella industrial area – 122 microns per year
  • Bayhead (Durban) – 66 microns per year
  • Empangeni – 58 microns per year


  • Germiston – 51 microns per year
  • Sasolburg – 50 microns per year
  • Secunda – 38 microns per year

The report stated that Mpumalanga, the Free State, and Gauteng experienced high corrosion rates despite being so far inland.

This was attributed to “airborne pollution from industrial facilities, including the Sasol synfuel refinery and Eskom coal-fired power stations”.

Eskom pollution

In June it was reported that Eskom’s power stations were causing massive pollution in South Africa, which had resulted in thousands of deaths in the country.

In 2018, then-acting environment minister Derek Hanekom also doubled the sulfur dioxide emission limits for existing coal plants by 2020 – breaking the law by not seeking public comment.

Further reports have stated that Eskom has broken “pollution equipment” running at its Kendal power station. This, in part, has resulted in a lawsuit against the South African government.

Now read: Eskom’s largest power plant has broken pollution equipment

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Gauteng pollution is so bad it is rusting cars