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Welding fumes and gases: hazard alert.

The Center to Protect Workers' Rights
Silver Spring, MD: The Center to Protect Workers' Rights, 2004 Dec; :1-2
Welding produces metal fumes and gases that can make you sick. The hazard depends on: 1) The welding method (such as MIG, TIG, or stick); 2) What the welding rod (electrode) is made of; 3) Filler metals and base metals (such as mild steel and stainless steel); 4) Paints and other coatings on the metals being welded; and 5) Ventilation. The Hazards: In confined spaces, welding can be deadly. Without enough ventilation, toxic fumes and gases can be much stronger. Shielding gases, like argon, can displace the oxygen and kill you. METALS. These are some of the toxic metals. Stainless steel contains nickel and chromium, which can cause asthma. Nickel and chromium 6 can cause cancer. Chromium can cause sinus problems and "holes" between the nostrils. Carbon steel contains more manganese than some other metals do. Manganese can cause Parkinson's disease, which cripples the nerves and muscles. Zinc in galvanized metal or in paint can cause metal fume fever. It feels like the flu and goes away in a few hours or days after exposure ends. COATINGS and RESIDUES. Lead (in some paints) can cause lead poisoning - headaches, sore muscles and joints, nausea, stomach cramps, irritability, memory loss, anemia, and kidney and nervous system damage. If lead dust goes home on work clothes/shoes, it can make your family sick, most of all your children. Cadmium (in some paints and fillers) can cause kidney problems and cancer. Other coatings may contain isocyanates, which can cause asthma; one type (TDI) may cause cancer. SOLVENTS. Welding through or near some (chlorinated) solvents can produce phosgene, a poisonous gas. The gas can cause fluid in the lungs. You may not notice the problem until hours after you quit welding. But fluid in your lungs can kill you. GASES. When carbon dioxide is used for shielding, carbon monoxide can form and kill you. Carbon monoxide can form also in oxyacetylene welding. The welding arc can form ozone and nitrogen oxides from the air. MIG and TIG welding make the most ozone, most of all when aluminum is welded. These fumes irritate the eyes, ear, nose, throat, and lungs and can damage the lungs. Some nitrogen oxides can cause fluid in the lungs.
Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Construction-materials; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Work-environment; Work-practices; Worker-health; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Confined-spaces; Hazards; Welders; Welders-lung; Welding; Welding-equipment; Welding-industry; Metal-compounds; Metal-fume-fever; Metal-fumes; Gas-welders; Gases; Paints; Coatings; Stainless-steel; Metal-workers; Metals; Fumes; Ventilation; Toxic-effects; Toxic-gases; Toxic-vapors; Oxygen-deficient-atmospheres; Bronchial-asthma; Cancer; Nasal-disorders; Neurological-diseases; Nervous-system-disorders; Muscle-function; Lead-fumes; Lead-poisoning; Stomach-disorders; Kidney-disorders; Mental-disorders; Cancer; Solvents; Poison-gases; Lung-disorders; Oxides; Nitrogen-oxides; Arc-welders; Arc-welding; Aluminum-compounds; Eye-irritants; Throat; Ears; Lung-irritants
Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO: CPWR, Suite 1000, 8484 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20910
7440-37-1; 7440-02-0; 7440-47-3; 18540-29-9; 7439-96-5; 7440-66-6; 7439-92-1; 7440-43-9; 584-84-9; 75-44-5; 124-38-9; 630-08-0; 10028-15-6; 10102-44-0; 7429-90-5
Publication Date
Document Type
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Construction
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-317202; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U54-OH-008307
Priority Area
Source Name
Welding Fumes and Gases: Hazard Alert
Performing Organization
The Center to Protect Workers' Rights
Page last reviewed: April 8, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division