The potential risks of welding operations include the potential to breathe in metal fumes and toxic gases. Fume particles are formed from the vaporisation of molten metal that occurs during the process. These particles are very fine in size and may join together to form larger particles..
The biggest risk is exposure to the manganese contained in fumes that are given off during welding. Inhaling manganese can cause very serious damage to your brain and nervous system.
Many workers who are exposed to welding fumes suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a major disorder affecting movement and balance. They often develop “manganism,” a disease closely related to Parkinson’s that also makes it difficult to walk and move properly. Both manganism and Parkinson’s disease cause tremors, shaking, and loss of muscle control.
Although the law restricts your exposure to manganese in welding fumes, its limits may not be enough to protect you. The current limit which is set at 5 milligrams per cubic meter per working day, however NIOSH recommend a limit of on 1 milligram – 5 times less that of the set limit.Other government hygienists recommend a limit of 0.2 milligrams or 25 times less than the current legal limit. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that inhaling manganese in amounts over 0.00005 milligrams may cause damage and illness.
Controlling the exposure
Good local or general ventilation is required to control exposures to the metal fumes and gases of welding operations. The most effective control is local exhaust ventilation in which an exhaust hood is placed near the welding arc or flame, and the contaminants are drawn away from the welder's breathing zone. The system may consist of moveable exhaust hoods, flexible and stationary ducts, a powered fan, and a fume or dust collector. Exhausted air should be discharged to the outdoors, if possible, it is important that, during the welding operation, the exhaust hoods are placed or set so that welding fumes are not drawn across the worker's face or into the breathing zone. Good general ventilation should be provided.
Welding in confined spaces such as tanks, cabs of mobile equipment, and large shovels may be especially hazardous and requires additional ventilation.
Other Harmful Metals in Welding Fumes
When the welding rod or base metal is iron or mild steel, iron oxide may be contained in the welding fumes in addition to manganese. Breathing in iron oxide irritates your nasal passages, throat, and lungs.
Working with stainless steel may produce welding fumes containing nickel and chromium. If you have asthma, exposure to nickel can make your illness worse. Chromium can aggravate or cause sinus problems. According to NIOSH, both nickel and chromium may cause cancer.
There are many ways in order to detect and monitor welding fumes but the most reliable and accurate way is to use an air sampling pump such as the new GilAir Plus by Gilian.
There are many sampling heads that can be used for a variety of sampling applications. For example the 37mm Open Face sampling head which is manufactured from conductive plastic or Aluminium is primarily used for toxic dusts, vapours mists and welding fumes or the 25mm Single hole sampling head which is used for sampling airborne lead.
The GilAir Plus is one of the newest pumps within the market today and houses a multitude of feature. The pumps small size and light weight are just an added bonus allowing you convenience and the ability to clip it onto your belt.
As well as being convenient and lightweight he pump also has Quadmode SM Air Sampling Technology, Selectable Automatic Fault Recovery Mode and standard Temperature and Pressure Correction
This intuitive air sampling pump has a flow range up to 5000 cc/min without the need for external adaptors and well as a constant pressure range of 1 - 5000 cc/min also without the need for external adaptors.
Would like to know more? Contact the Shawcity team; your source for any monitoring solution.