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Design and characterization of a novel robotic welding fume inhalation and exposure system for laboratory animals.

Antonini-JM; Afshari-A; Stone-S; Chen-TB; Schwegler-Berry-D; Fletcher-G; Goldsmith-T; Vandestouwe-K; McKinney-W; Castranova-V; Frazer-D
Toxicologist 2005 Mar; 84(Suppl 1):299
Respiratory effects observed in welders have included lung function changes, metal fume fever, bronchitis, and a possible increase in the incidence of lung cancer. Many questions remain unanswered regarding the causality and possible underlying mechanisms associated with the potential toxic effects of welding fume inhalation. The objective was to construct a completely automated, computer-controlled welding fume generation and exposure system to simulate real workplace conditions. The system was comprised of a programmable six-axis robotic welding arm, a water-cooled arc welding torch, and a wire feeder that supplied the wire to the torch at a programmed rate up to 300 in/min. For the initial studies, gas metal arc welding was performed using a stainless steel electrode. A flexible trunk was attached to the robotic arm of the welder and was used to collect and transport fume from the vicinity of the arc to the animal exposure chamber. Undiluted fume concentrations consistently ranged from 90-150 mg/m3 in the animal chamber during welding. Temperature and humidity remained constant in the chamber during the welding operation. The welding particles were comprised of (from highest to lowest concentration) Fe, Cr, Mn, and Ni as measured by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy. Size distribution analysis indicated the mass median aerodynamic diameter of the generated particles to be approximately 0.24 um with a geometric standard deviation of 1.39. As determined by scanning electron microscopy, the generated aerosols were mostly arranged as chain-like agglomerates of primary particles. These characterization studies of the generated welding aerosol have indicated that particle morphology, size, and chemical composition are comparable to stainless steel welding fume generated in the workplace. With the development of this novel system, it will be possible to establish an animal model using controlled welding exposures to investigate how welding fumes affect health.
Welding; Fumes; Inhalation-studies; Laboratory-animals; Animals; Animal-studies; Exposure-levels; Welders; Welders-lung; Respiratory-system-disorders; Lung-function; Lung-cancer; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Toxic-effects; Exposure-chambers; Stainless-steel; Chemical-composition; Particle-aerodynamics; Morphology; Occupational-health; Occupational-exposure
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Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Mixed Exposures
Source Name
The Toxicologist. Society of Toxicology 44th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, March 6-10, 2005, New Orleans, Louisiana