Don’t let your health go up in smoke!
Our society is becoming ever more health conscious as science becomes better able to explain cause-and-effect of diseases and ailments. Increasing knowledge about the health hazards associated with breathing welding fumes and gases above certain concentrations and the serious illnesses that can result emphasises the need to educate, train and provide welders with appropriate protection. Safe welding practice requires recognition of the hazards, evaluation of the risks and implementation of control measures to protect workers.
What is welding fume?
Welding fumes are very fine, solid particles of metal oxides that form during the welding process. The specific substances and amount a welder inhales depend on the welding method, conditions under which the welding takes place, and the types of metals being welded. Many types of metals may be found in welding fumes, including arsenic,
beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, selenium, vanadium, and zinc. Gases commonly associated with welding are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, fluorine compounds, and phosgene. These gases may be present as the result of:
• Combustion of flux shielding.
• Ultraviolet radiation interaction with shielding gases,
oxygen, carbon dioxide, and solvents.
• Burning metal coatings.
Factors effecting respiratory exposure
The base material being welded or the filler material that is used.
• Coatings and paints on the metal being welded or coatings covering the electrode.
• Shielding gases; and chemical reactions which result from the action of ultraviolet light from the arc and heat.
• Reaction with other contaminants in the air. Eg. vapours from nearby cleaners and degreasers.
• Work position.
• Ventilation (area/local).