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Worker exposures to ozone and other contaminants during TIG and MIG welding.

Burr G; Sollberger R; Achutan C
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005 May; :59
NIOSH evaluations were conducted at a company producing oil coolers used in the U.S. Army main battle tank. Workers described health effects during tungsten inert gas (TIG) and metal inert gas (MIG) welding on aluminum oil coolers, including burning eyes, sore throats, headaches, sinus problems, and exhaustion. Employees were also concerned about discoloration on their welding visors. Air sampling was performed for ozone, metals (specifically aluminum), trichloroethylene (TCE, used in a nearby degreaser), and phosgene (a possible combustion product when chlorinated hydrocarbon comes in contact with a flame or very hot metal). During the initial survey the highest exposures were to ozone, ranging up to 0.7 parts per million (ppm) for short-term (5 minute) exposures, exceeding the NIOSH Ceiling Limit for ozone of 0.1 ppm. Higher concentrations were measured during MIG welding (up to 0.7 ppm) compared to TIG welding (<0.05 to 0.1 ppm). Exposures to other contaminants were well below occupational exposure limits (OELs). A brownish-red residue which accumulated on the welding visors contained iron and copper. During the follow-up survey, full-shift ozone concentrations ranged from not detected to 0.08 ppm, while short-term (5 minute) concentrations were not detectable. However, no MIG welding was performed during the follow-up survey. Detector tube samples for TCE revealed short-term concentrations ranging from 5 and 100 ppm in the vicinity of the degreaser. All other contaminant levels were below their OELs. Phosgene was not detected during either survey. Recommendations to reduce ozone exposures included installing engineering controls (more local exhaust ventilation, larger exhaust hoods, and more general room ventilation), limiting the amount of welding during a workday, and using respiratory protection while implementing these engineering or administrative controls. For the degreaser operation recommendations included performing full-shift sampling for TCE and providing additional operator training and personal protective equipment.
Workers; Occupational-exposure; Welding; Occupational-health; Tungsten-compounds; Inert-gases; Metals; Metal-compounds; Welding-industry; Health-hazards; Worker-health; Air-sampling; Air-contamination; Exposure-levels; Exposure-assessment; Engineering-controls; Respiratory-protection; Training; Personal-protective-equipment; Eye-irritants; Respiratory-irritants
10028-15-6; 79-01-6; 75-44-5; 7429-90-5
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division