Everything about welding fumes your boss wants to know.
Published: 07/20/2017 11:56 AM by Leon Thomas

Driven by better appreciation and backed up by tightening regulations, today’s industrial workplace increasingly demands cleaner air, a dust, pollutant free and safe working environment.

Especially in the metal-working industry, clean air in the workplace is a growing topic of concern. Clean air is important for efficient production processes, answering rising environmental issues, and most importantly for the health of employees.

Welding 110.jpgNew concerns have been raised around the health of employees’ due to welding fumes. There is a wide range of short term effects caused by welding fumes, however the long term and chronic effects are difficult to directly link to welding fumes given the wide variety of external factors. Below are a few effects that could caused by exposure to welding fumes:

- Irritation of the eyes, nose and chest, leading to shortness of breath, and coughing. Asthma can be contracted by welding fumes as well.

- Pneumonia – Welders are prone to lung infections that can lead to severe and even sometimes fatal pneumonia.

- Metal Fume Fever – Occurs with the inhalation of Zinc Oxide fumes along with other components. Symptoms of metal fume fever resemble influenza, and occur several hous after exposure.

- Cancer – Welding fume is internationally classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans. This is primarily linked with stainless steel welding, however is not limited to stainless steel.

- Exposure to Ozone – Ozone generated in GMAW and plasma arc welding can cause excessive mucus secretion, headache, lethargy, and irritation.

- Exposure to Nitrogen Oxides – Produces similar respiratory tract effects to ozone.

For a business trying to provide clean air and a healthy work environment, it is often a matter of being hamstrung by building codes and substantial financial outlays. These types of general ventilation systems are limited in their efficiency, as fumes at the source still escape into the general atmosphere before being sucked out from the overall building. Mobile fume extractions units can be the answer to providing clean air when and where it’s needed without having to install massive building wide units. They are efficient to run and do not require large initial financial outlays.

Such mobile units should offer a diverse range of extraction solutions embracing fume, mist and dust needs with units suited to at-the-source extraction.

It is common sense that tells us a clear head makes clear, focused decisions......productivity increases and mistakes are minimised. Our workplaces deserve better that what we’ve been prepared to expect.

When looking at installing air filters or fume extraction units we need to scope out these fundamentals:

  • Source and type of the contamination
  • Overall volume or frequency of fume pollution
  • Building restriction and overlays
  • Budget

In general, mobile units provide a more cost effective, equally efficient solution, whilst also giving flexibility, i.e. moving units directly to where they are needed.

A good mobile unit should provide a dedicated field of suction combined with a comprehensive filtering technology, such as a fully contained self-cleaning cartridge filter system.

For different applications there are different solutions available. The solution should be chosen that gets closest to the source of the fume, and is able to perform as expected. Mobile units, wall mounted units and telescopic units are available along with extraction fans, to cover a wide range of applications.

Businesses are expected to address any contamination issue but many are likely to have limited knowhow on the subject and how to address the issues and contamination risks. It is therefore advisable for businesses to contact experts or suppliers that could provide an expert assessment of the situation and a comprehensive solution to providing a clean air work environment for all.

Excision offers extraction units of various types and would be happy to provide expert advice to businesses to structure a cost effective and efficient plan. Please feel free to contact us, ask the questions and we will give you the answers you need so everybody can breathe easy in your work place.