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    What's New — brain damage

    Important 5 Minute Cancer Warning that all Welders Need to Read

    An Australian-first judgment linking a Melbourne man's deadly lung tumour to toxic welding fumes has opened the door to new compensation claims by former welders battling cancer.

    Anh Tran, a 54-year-old ex-smoker whose right lung has been surgically removed, won WorkCover compensation last week after a court ruled that working as a welder had raised his risk of contracting lung cancer.

    The Victorian County Court ruled in favour of Mr Tran in light of testimony from medical experts that former welders were 44 per cent more likely to contract lung cancer compared to people who have never worked in the field.

    The court heard welders were 23 per cent more likely to develop Mr Tran's particular type of lung cancer - adenocarcinoma.

    It is the first time in Australia that compensation has been awarded due to a link between lung cancer and welding fumes, which are formed when a metal is heated above boiling point and its vapours condense into fine particles. Welding fumes have previously been linked to bronchitis, asthma and welder's lung - a condition where iron particles are deposited in the lungs.

    Law firm Maurice Blackburn said the ruling was significant for scores of present and former welders in providing legal precedence accepting the elevated risk of lung cancer in their line of work.

    The Victorian WorkCover Authority and the federal regulator, Safe Work Australia, said they were not aware of any other cases where welders had received workers' compensation for lung cancer.

    Courtesy of theage.com.au, Date August 16, 2014

     

    This case underlines the need for welders and businesses that employ welders to understand the health risks associated with welding fume. Every welder should wear some form of respiratory protection. Below are some of the main options available to welders:

    Disposable Respiratory Protection:

    Disposable respirators are perfect for use under a welding helmet. They provide lightweight and comfortable respiratory protection. Disposable respirators can provide a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) of 10. Which simply means that, with the correct fit, the air you breath will be at least ten times cleaner than the air you’d otherwise be breathing*.

     View Disposable Respirators

     Reusable Respiratory Protection:

    Reusable respirators only fit under some welding helmets (eg. 3MSpeedglasWelding Helmet Series 9100). They can provide protection against gases, vapours and particulates. Reusable respirators can provide a Required Minimum Protection Factor (RMPF) of 10. Which simply means, with the correct fit,  the air you breath will be at least ten times cleaner than the air you’d otherwise be breathing*.

     View Reusable Respirators

     Powered Air Respiratory protection:

    With its smart, compact design, the award-winning Adflo Powered Air Respirator is specially designed to meet your welding needs when used with the 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100 FX Air and 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100 MP Air. Its continuous airflow (170 or 200 litres per minute) provides filtered air that takes much of the heat and sweat out of welding. The powered air respirator systems mentioned above have a RMPF of 50*.

     View Powered Respirators

     Supplied Air Respiratory Protection:

    The Versaflo™ Supplied Air Regulator V-500E is a lightweight, belt mounted regulator that allows you to adjust the airflow from 170 litres per minute to 305 litres per minute. The high, constant flow rate makes the V-500E regulator ideal for hot and strenuous welding conditions The supplied air respirator systems below have a RMPF of 100+*.

     View Supplied Respirators

     *Please note that this is only a general guide of respiratory protection that is available to welders. There may be a need to further investigate air quality to assess type and level of contamination. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure correct product selection for each application. Final determination of product applicability must be made by an appropriately qualified person. Do not use any of the products featured for respiratory protection against unknown atmospheric contaminants or when concentrations are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) or in atmospheres containing less than 19.5% oxygen.

    Don't let your health go up in smoke!

    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).
    • Voltage/Amperage.

     

    View our respiratory protection products 

    Care and Maintenance: Welding Helmets

    You only have one pair of eyes and one set of lungs. A welding helmet with suitable respiratory protection for your specific application will go a long way in protecting these valuable organs. But, is buying a welding helmet and respirator system all you need to do and what steps can you take to protect the equipment that protects you? 

    Most auto welding helmets have cover lenses to protect the inside and outside of the auto-darkening lens. You will notice a purple coating on almost all auto-darkening lenses. This purple coating is a UV and IR filter which means it blocks Ultra Violet and Infra Red light from reaching your eyes. The only light that passes through this filter is visible light that can be controlled by way of variable shade selection. Therefore, if the purple coating is damaged or scratched in anyway it takes away that UV/IR protection and this will allow harmful light to pass through which will lead to arc eye and many other painful conditions. Damaging the coating on the auto darkening welding lens through misuse will also void your warranty with many welding helmet suppliers. Therefore it's important to always monitor the condition of your inside and outside cover lenses - keeping them clean and changing them regularly.

    Welding powered air respirator systems also need a regular consumable change program in place. Most of these welding respirator systems will come with a particle filter and pre-filter as well as gas filters if required. It is essential to monitor the load on these filters regularly to maintain the desired level of protection. Many systems come with particle filter indicators which is a good place to start but nothing beats opening up the system and doing a manual check. If you see break through in the particle filter - change it immediately. Not only will breakthrough ruin the powered air respirator it can cause serious issues for the welder if left unprotected from particles and fume. What kind of issues? Here's just a quick list of diseases or ailments linked to welding fume (if you want more info on this - click on the relevant blog tag):

    • Bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia
    • Emphysema and siderosis
    • Ulcers & kidney damage
    • Heart and skin disease
    • Damage to the central nervous system 
    • Brain damage  

    The pre-filter on your powered air respirator system should be changed regularly to maintain the life of the particle filter. In basic terms: replace the cheap bit to prolong the life of the more expensive bit. The pre-filter will pick up the particles that could lead to breakthrough in your particle filter. Both pre-filter and particle filter must be used at all times in most systems.  

     

    Here we have created a suggested change frequency guide for the Speedglas 9100 welding helmet product series that we feature and supply on this site. Now every welder's application is different and trying to put something like this together is like asking how long is a piece of string. But as an example, a welder who welds 4 hours a day should be looking at replacing his or her gear at the suggested time intervals below. Again, it could be more frequent or less frequent, really depends on you. Our advice would be to use this as a guide and tinker where required.

     

    If you have any questions or would like a change frequency guide for one of our other products - let us know!!  

     

     

    Outside Cover Lenses Part Number Change
    OUTER COVER LENS STD 9100 PK=10 526000 Once-twice a week
    OUTER COVER LENS HC 9100 PK=10 527000 Once a fortnight
    OUTER COVER LENS HT 9100 PK=10 527070 Once-twice a week
    VISOR PLATE 9100 FX PK=5 523000 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    VISOR PLATE ANTI-FOG 9100 FX PK=5 523001 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    Inside Cover Lenses
    INNER COVER LENS 9100V PK=5 528005 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100X PK=5 528015 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100XX PK=5 528025 Once a month
    Sweatbands
    SWEATBAND 9100 MP PK=2 168010 Once a month
    Adflo PAPR System
    PRE-FILTER ADFLO PK=5 836010 Once-twice a week
    PARTICLE FILTER ADFLO 837010 Once a month
    OUTER COVER LENS STD 9100 PK=10 526000 Once-twice a week
    OUTER COVER LENS HC 9100 PK=10 527000 Once a fortnight
    OUTER COVER LENS HT 9100 PK=10 527070 Once-twice a week
    VISOR PLATE 9100 FX PK=5 523000 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    VISOR PLATE ANTI-FOG 9100 FX PK=5 523001 Once a month (occasional grinding), Once a fortnight (daily grinding)
    Inside Cover Lenses
    INNER COVER LENS 9100V PK=5 528005 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100X PK=5 528015 Once a month
    INNER COVER LENS 9100XX PK=5 528025 Once a month
    Sweatbands
    SWEATBAND 9100 MP PK=2 168010 Once a month
    Adflo PAPR System
    PRE-FILTER ADFLO PK=5 836010 Once-twice a week
    PARTICLE FILTER ADFLO 837010 Once a month

    Links between Welding and Brain Damage

     A Mayo Clinic case series analysis has pinpointed for the first time syndromes associated with toxic damage to the brain and nervous system from manganese fumes generated during welding. The analysis also revealed that all affected patients shared a risk factor: welding with inadequate ventilation. The findings are published online at www.neurology.org and will appear in the June 28 print issue of Neurology.

    In the Mayo analysis, the researchers examined medical records from eight patients referred to the clinic between 1999 and 2005 for various nervous system complaints. All of their MRI scans showed an area of increased T1 signal intensity in the basal ganglia region of the brain, which appears as a bright spot on the MRI scan and is a biological indicator of manganese accumulation. All were men involved in welding for one to 25 years before symptoms developed. Initial symptoms varied, but multiple symptoms developed over time, including cognitive impairment, headaches and tremor in six of the patients, and balance problems in five patients. Each patient was diagnosed with neurotoxicity from welding fumes after undergoing testing appropriate to the patient's complaints, such as blood and urine testing, brain MRI and psychological testing of intelligence, aptitude and personality traits.

    The increased T1 signal in the brains of the eight patients as revealed by MRI is an uncommon finding in brain imaging, according to Keith Josephs, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist who spearheaded the analysis. This is the first case series of welders with this abnormal signal highlighting such widespread neurological impairment.

    "In the setting of prominent manganese exposure in the environment, as occurred in these otherwise healthy welders, there are no other reasonable explanations than the fume exposure for the damage present in the MRI findings," he says.

    Syndromes

    Dr. Josephs says previous case reports have linked manganese fumes generated by welding with various symptoms, but none has identified the syndromes or actual diagnoses, except parkinsonism. The syndromes identified in the Mayo Clinic analysis are:

    • Parkinsonian syndrome -- a form of parkinsonism, a group of diseases characterized by tremor, rigidity or stiffness, slow movements and difficulty maintaining balance. This syndrome can look like Parkinson's disease, yet is distinct.
    • Multifocal myoclonus -- lightning-fast twitches that occur all over the body.
    • Vestibular-auditory dysfunction -- problems with balance, hearing or dizziness.
    • Mild cognitive impairment -- concentration impairment characterized by a lack of attention. This is different from the mild cognitive impairment which is a precursor condition to Alzheimer's disease.
    • Patients also displayed minor symptoms of anxiety, irritability, shakiness and sleep disorder.

    Dr. Josephs encourages physicians to think broadly regarding symptoms potentially associated with welding and manganese fume exposure. "When physicians consider welding and manganese exposure, they often think of a symptom known as 'cock walk' -- a staggering, strutting gait. Our analysis shows that symptoms are often more subtle. Damage from manganese exposure is also more common than we think."

    Risk Factors

    A common factor with all eight welders studied, according to Dr. Josephs, was inadequate fume-protective measures. This provides further evidence that unprotected welding leads to neurological damage. "An important finding from our case series analysis is that these patients were not only all welders, but all had a lack of ventilation," says Dr. Josephs. "They didn't have a mask or were welding in confined spaces."

    Dr. Josephs does not advocate against welding; rather, he encourages prudent safeguards. "Protection is the key ingredient here," he says.

    Treatment and Long-Term Outcomes

    Mayo Clinic physicians treated seven of the eight patients with low-manganese diets and one with chelation therapy with ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid, a crystalline acid therapy designed to bind the acid with the excess metal in the body -- the manganese -- and neutralize the toxic effect.

    Dr. Josephs explains, however, that there is no "home run" treatment for manganese neurotoxicity. "We don't have enough evidence that diet is absolutely the way to go; while diet modifications can decrease oral intake of manganese, their manganese exposure is due to another form of intake: inhalation. Chelation therapy has the inherent risk of removing metals important to the body."

    Many of the patients studied still had symptoms after they stopped exposing themselves to welding fumes, leading the Mayo neurologists to postulate that the damage invoked by manganese exposure may be permanent. "It seems to be static or progressive, not reversible," says Dr. Josephs. "I think the best option is removal from welding."




    Courtesy of Mayo Clinic
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/news

    Excerpt copied from AWS