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Soluble salts on a surface can affect a steel substrate or coating in two principal ways: corrosion acceleration and osmotic blistering. This article provides a detailed discussion on the mechanisms for each of these deleterious effects. It describes the most detrimental anions with regard to corrosion, namely, chlorides, sulfates, and nitrates, and provides information on recognition and testing of the presence of soluble salts. The salt-measurement techniques and commercially available equipment are also described. The article provides information on research regarding tolerable levels of salts beneath coatings. The information shows that there appears to be a threshold limit to the salt contamination that a given coating/coating system can tolerate in a given environment.

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