What is Welding Fume?

Welding involves exposure to several hazardous chemical agents.

The chemicals in the fumes depend on the type of welding, the material being welded, the welding gas used and the electrode or welding rod. The likely exposure of the welder to the various constituents of the welding fume depends on all of the above in addition to their location, other welding activities, ventilation and the work practices of the welder. Other activities such as grinding and polishing, Surface coatings, contaminants and degreasing agents, can further complicate exposures.

Health Risks

The health risks associated with welding include:

Acute respiratory health effects

  • Irritation to the throat and airway
  • Acute irritant-induced asthma
  • Metal fume fever
  • Acute pneumonia
  • Asphyxiation when welding in a confined space

Chronic respiratory health effects

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Welders Lung
  • Occupational Asthma
  • Lung cancer (IARC)

Other Health effects

  • Skin effects
  • Arc-eye
  • Ocular melanoma
  • Neurological effects e.g. manganese from mild steel
  • Hearing effects e.g. Noise, Ototoxic chemicals
  • Hand Arm Vibration