Fume exposures during stainless steel welding (using different rod types and rod diameters) and the effect of local exhaust ventilation during outdoor welding operations were evaluated with the assistance of a trade union. The union offered to participate in a simulation study, providing welders, welding equipment, and consumables at their training facility in Kansas, both inside a building and outside in a semienclosed tank. Two types of portable local exhaust ventilation units, supplied by Plymovent (Mississauga. ON, Canada), were evaluated for their ability to exhaust stainless steel welding fumes away from the worker's breathing zone at the point of generation. Four standard types of stainless steel rods used by the union welders were identified and evaluated: AWS 308. 309-16, 316, and 347. The 3xx series designated by the American Welding Society (AWS) has a high chromium nickel makeup. Four standard rod diameters used by the union welders were also identified and evaluated: 3/32-in, 1/8-in, 5/32-in, and 3/16-in (0.24, 0.32, 0.40, and 0.48 cm. respectively). The rods were from a number of manufacturers, including Alloy Rods, Harris Welco Alloys, McKay, Tech Alloy, and Lincoln. Two of the instructors from the training center participated in this study, along with a welder from the local union hall.
Division of Applied Research and Technology, NIOSH, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA