Welding joins materials together by liquefying metal work pieces alongside a filler metal to develod a stable joint. The welding process creates gases and fumes that contain unsafe and potentially toxic by-products, which can be avoided through effective methods of Fume Extraction.

The fumes produced by the welding process are complex and they consist of blend of metallic oxides, silicates and fluorides. Intense or constant overexposure to welding smoke and gasses can cause eye, nose and throat trouble. It can also result in a degree of nausea and a feeling of queasiness; this is why Fume Extraction is so important. Welders who encounter these indications ought to leave the area quickly, look for outside air and seek out medical attention.

It is not uncommon for lengthy exposure to welding fumes to result in lung damage as well as a variety of cancers, such as cancers of the larynx, lung or urinary tract. Your wellbeing can be impacted in a number of ways, metal fume fever, damage to your sensory system, kidney damage and stomach ulcers are reported by those who work in the welding industry. A drawn out exposure to such fumes has even been known to cause symptoms which resemble Parkinson’s. When oxygen is replaced by gases such as helium, carbon dioxide or argon, the result can be suffocation and the production of carbon monoxide gas.

Welding outdoors or in open workspaces does not guarantee adequate ventilation but is helpful in fume level reduction. Laborers ought to position themselves to abstain from breathing toxic welding fumes, when working outdoors always stay upwind so as to avoid breathing harmful gasses.

In work areas not practicing proper ventilation or exhaust systems, welders need to make good use of natural drafts along with proper positioning to keep fume and gases away from yourself as well as other workers in your immediate area. Correctly observing Fume Extraction protocalls plays a significant role in the process of welding safety.

Solutions

Certain frameworks, correctly in place, can ensure the effective Fume Extraction from a welder’s breathing zone; these frameworks include fume extractors such as those developed by Envirox. You may also want to consider using a less poisonous welding consumables and limit your welding activities to areas and spaces which are not confined or closed off. Always be aware of the potential hazards of the materials that you are working with. For example, Fluxes which are made up of floride or silica produce fumes amorphous silica, fluoride and metallic silicate in nature. Welding stainless steel will produce fumes that contain larger amounts chromium and nickel than iron, as is the case when welding mild steel.

Remember to clean any coating from welding surfaces that may result in the development of toxic fumes. Toxic gases can originate from coatings and buildups on metal undergoing the welding process. The ingredients included in coatings include lead oxide primer paints, cadmium plating and zinc on galvanised steel which vaporises to produce zinc oxide fumes. These metal coatings are a definite source of toxic fumes. The revmoval of metal coatings also have the potential to improve the quality of the weld being produced. Make use stripping products for the removal of coatings, be sure to remove all residue from the surface of the weld before you start. Don’t grind the surfaces as the dust may be toxic.

Don’t forget to put safety first and ensure that you are always sufficiently protected with the correct safety gear before you begin welding.

E-weld can assist you with all your Fume Extraction needs. Contact us via email at sales@e-weld.co.za or give us a call on +27 87 802 2122. Alternatively, you can visit us at Unit 2 Princess Square on the corner of Elise and President Roads in Princess Roodepoort, 1729.