HEALTH PROBLEMS FROM WELDING FUMES AND SMOKE
It is imperative to follow ATEX exposure guidelines for these and other metals, particularly where workers are at risk for long-term health effects. Metal dust particles in welding fumes are a leading cause of eye irritation, upper respiratory infections, coughs and headaches.
- Manganese in welding wire causes weakness, fatigue and headaches. Chronic overexposure leads to “manganism” which causes neurological and neurobehavioral problems.
- Hexavalent chromium (hex chrome) is a carcinogenic substance produced when welding stainless steel and other metals that contain chromium. Overexposure can cause upper respiratory damage, eye and skin irritations, rashes, allergies, contact dermatitis, sinus irritation, nosebleeds, stomach and nose ulcers, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure can cause lung cancer and injury to the eyes, skin, liver and kidneys. The current OSHA PEL for hex chrome is extremely stringent compared to other materials.
- Zinc oxide is produced when welding galvanized steel. Exposure can cause “metal fume fever,” a short-term illness with severe flu-like symptoms. It is often confused with regular influenza and often goes undiagnosed.
- Welding fumes are known to cause headaches. A customer who manages 60 welders reported experiencing daily headaches for years. After installing a properly designed air filtration system, the headaches stopped.