No matter how often you hear it, keeping the workshop air clean is vital for welding safety. It’s important to stay educated on what fumes are released when heating metal and how they affect your physical wellbeing. Understanding the dangers of various toxins can prevent life-threatening issues before they get out of hand. Here are the worst kinds of fumes that come from welding.
A cluster of toxic fumes stuck in a workshop can cause symptoms of “metal fume fever,” or MFF. This ailment occurs after over-exposure to welded galvanized steel. The symptoms of MFF are flu-like, including chills, nausea, headaches, aches, joint pains, fevers, respiratory strain, and dizziness. These issues become exasperated with further exposure, leading to serious medical complications, like chronic rashes, high blood pressure, no urine output, and sudden collapses.
So what are the worst MFF-causing fumes? Beryllium, copper, manganese, and zinc. Manganese is the most prevalent fume in workshops as it comes from welding high-tensile steel. It mainly affects the central nervous system. Beryllium, found in various aluminum alloys, attacks the respiratory tract. Copper originates in Monel, bronze, and brass, and it’s known to affect the eyes, nose, and throat. Zinc mainly causes the staple symptoms of MFF without a particular focus on body parts.
We’ve mentioned chromium in the past: hexavalent chromium is highly toxic and harms countless welders every year. When welders combine stainless-steel and high-alloy materials, the chromium within converts to its hexavalent form.
Chromium is a known carcinogen, meaning it can lead to the development of certain cancers, especially in the lungs. Over-exposure doesn’t cause outright MFF, but the symptoms are similar. Key symptoms to look out for include a strained cough, nasal perforation, and persistent bloody-nose episodes.
Iron oxides come from welded steel or iron, making them common in the work environment. What makes this fume so terrible is that it can cause siderosis. “Welder’s Lung” is a benign form of lung disease that worsens with further exposure to iron oxides.
Siderosis symptoms include nasal and lung irritation, although the signs of this affliction aren’t overtly obvious. Some welders who suffer from siderosis also succumb to silicosis, which has obvious symptoms of its own. Luckily, siderosis clears as exposure to iron oxide decreases.
Welding hazards make the profession seem dangerous and unenjoyable, but there are many ways to combat the worst kinds of fumes that come from welding! Our welding fume collectors are highly capable of extracting toxins locally, giving you clean air and peace of mind. Contact FumeDog today to learn more.