Health risks of welding fumes

Plymovent-Welding-Solutions-EPA-Regulations-2011

Comply with the new EPA - NESHAP Regulations

Welding metals containing cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel pose health risks to anyone who breathes the air when these fumes are present. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has new requirements to reduce air pollution of compounds of these such metals. These compounds are emitted into the air from various operations at metal fabrication and finishing plants.

The rule applies to any business, company, owner or operator of an area source where the primary activity of the facility is in one of the following nine (9) source categories:

  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment Finishing Operations
  • Fabricated Metal Products
  • Fabricated Plate Work (Boiler Shops)
  • Fabricated Structural Metal Manufacturing
  • Heating Equipment, except Electric
  • Industrial Machinery and Equipment Finishing Operations
  • Iron and Steel Forging
  • Primary Metal Products Manufacturing
  • Valves and Pipe Fittings

The EPA’s rule contains requirements for five (5) specific processes. Any of these processes at a facility in one of the nine (9) source categories mentioned above are subject to meet the requirements.

  • Dry Abrasive Blasting
  • Dry Grinding and Dry Polishing with Machines
  • Dry Machining
  • Spray Painting
  • Welding

For additional information, please refer to the EPA's website.

Health effects

Exposure to different types of welding fumes may result in different health effects. If a welder inhales gases, fumes and vapours in large quantities over long periods, this may have a negative effect on his health.

 

Health risks when inhaling welding fumes:

Fume/Dust

Possible immediate effects Possible long-term effects
Welding fume (general) Hoarseness, sore throat, eye irritation, metal fever Bronchitis, reprotoxic

Chromium (in welding fume in case of -among other things- stainless steel welding)

  Carcinogenic

Nickel (in welding fume in case of -among other things- stainless steel welding)

Metal fever Carcinogenic
Aluminium Irritation of respiratory organs, metal fever  
Manganese Pneumonia Damage to central nervous system
Zinc Metal fever  
Copper Metal fever  
Magnesium Irritation of respiratory organs, metal fever  
Lead   Changes of blood and kidneys Reprotoxic

 

 

Gases Possible immediate effects Possible long-term effects
Nitrogen oxide Irritation of bronchial tubes and eyes, pulmonary oedema Bronchitis
Carbon monoxide Difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness Reprotoxic
Ozone Irritation of bronchial tubes and eyes, pulmonary oedema  

 

Source: Keep welding fumes out of your body (2002)