Corrosion is the deterioration of materials by chemical interaction with their environment.
The term corrosion is sometimes also applied to the degradation of plastics, concrete and wood, but generally refers to metals. The most widely used metal is iron (usually as steel) and the following discussion is mainly related to its corrosion.
The consequences of corrosion are many and varied and the effects of these on the safe, reliable and efficient operation of equipment or structures are often more serious than the simple loss of a mass of metal. Failures of various kinds and the need for expensive replacements may occur even though the amount of metal destroyed is quite small.
Some of the major harmful effects of corrosion can be summarised as follows :