Workplace Safety: Why a Welding Fume Extractor Is Essential

Why a Welding Fume Extractor Is Essential

Welding is an essential practice used in a number of industries. However, the truth is that exposure to the fumes generated during the welding process can cause several health problems. 

Fortunately, welding fume extractors are designed to reduce exposure and ensure that workers and passersby are safe. Let's explore how fume extractors protect you and why you need to invest in one. 

What Makes Weld Fume Dangerous?

Welding fumes were previously categorized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as likely to cause cancer in humans. However, following additional research, the organization has recently reclassified welding fumes as a Class 1 carcinogen. This means that if welders are not adequately safeguarded at work, their well-being and the health of their coworkers are at risk.

Let's take a closer look at the two products of welding that pose a health risk. 

Hazardous Welding Fumes

Heating metal can produce potentially hazardous fumes. Examples of such toxic gases include carbon monoxide, nitrogen, hydrogen fluoride, ozone, and more. Carbon dioxide, two protective gases essential to welding, can also cause a number of health problems.

When inhaled, these fumes pose a risk for significant lung conditions as well as brain and nervous system damage. According to IARC, the following complications could occur as a result of prolonged exposure to the hazardous gases produced during welding operations: 

  • Emphysema
  • Asthma 
  • Parkinson's disease 
  • Lead poisoning 
  • Cancer 
  • Irritation of the nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs 
  • Anemia 
  • Metal fume fever 
  • Kidney failure 

The harm that welding smoke can do can happen gradually and without any apparent symptoms.

Fine Metal Particles

During welding, small metal particles are released into the air. Although these tiny particles are too small for the human eye to see, they can accumulate quickly and pose a serious health danger if inhaled. Iron, lead, aluminum, tin, cadmium, zinc, nickel, and other dangerous metals could become airborne.

Fine Metal Particles

How Weld Fume Extraction Can Help

Thankfully, welding fumes do not have to pose a threat to workers. Welders can perform their work safely with the help of fixed and portable fume extractors. Weld fume extraction systems are designed to remove toxic gases and fine metal particles produced during welding processes. 

The best way to remove welding fumes is at the source or using local ventilation, which is why any company that values its workers provides essential protection in the workplace. With a fume extractor, you can stop welding fumes in its tracks. 

There are many different types of welding fume extractors, some of which are appropriate for light, moderate, or heavy operations. The weld fumes and airborne particles will not pose a health threat if the extractor arms are correctly positioned and in accordance with the unique needs of the workplace.

A Closer Look at the Different Types of Weld Fume Extractors

There are several different welding fume extractor options available to you. The one you choose will ultimately depend on your unique needs. Here are some of the choices you have: 

1. Stationary Fume Extractors

These fixed fume extractor systems require permanent installation and are fixed at the welding operation site. Depending on the design of the fume extractor, the air is either passed through a set of filters before being reintroduced to the area or is moved to the outside. You should choose a powerful high-volume system to ensure maximum extraction. 

2. Mobile Fume Extraction Systems

Another great option is a portable or mobile welding fume extractor. These systems can be moved around, and like many fixed weld fume extractors, they have extraction arms to target the fumes at the source. If your welding operations take place at many different locations, this is a great option. 

3. Booths with Welding Fume Extractors

If you want to ensure the safety of other workers or passersby, a welding booth is a great option. These welding booths are designed for privacy and have extraction systems to remove weld fume while you work. 

Final Thoughts 

Fine metal particles and toxic gases produced during the welding process can pose a threat to the health of workers and those nearby. Fortunately, a welding fume extractor can provide the kind of protection needed to ensure a safe working environment. 

Keep in mind that fume extractor systems require replacement filters to ensure that they are working correctly. 


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