Multiple engineering safety controls help reduce hazardous welding fume exposure

Welding fume is known to contain a variety of metals and gases that are harmful if acute or prolonged exposure occurs. Side effects can range from nose and throat irritation and dizziness and nausea, to lung damage and various types of cancer. Of particular concern is hexavalent chromium fume exposure (Cr (IV)) which is derived from chromium – a component of stainless steel. Cr (IV) fume is highly toxic and has shown to damage vital organs and cause cancer.

There are several ways to protect workers from welding fume exposure.

  • Replace – When possible, replace hazardous materials with safer substitutes.
  • Reduce – Minimize exposure time to the hazard.
  • Control – If using a substitute material isn’t an option, utilize multiple engineering safety controls (i.e. source capture of the hazard and local exhaust ventilation)
  • Protect – Wear proper personal protective equipment when working with the hazard (i.e. respirator, mask, gloves, gowns, goggles, etc.)

Example of welding cell safety controls

In the graphic below, Sentry Air Systems designed a source-capture and ambient air filtration solution to multi-cell welding stations.

Major components include:

Welding Cell FiltrationSource-capture fume extraction

Trapping fume at the source of emission is one of the best ways to reduce hazardous welding smoke inhalation. By using an articulating fume arm, operators can position the capture hood within inches of the weld spot. When the arm is connected to an exhaust system or standalone fume extraction unit, the contaminated air is pulled through the arm and away from the operator.

Source-capture fume extraction with fume arm

Source-capture fume extraction with fume arm

In the earlier graphic, we mounted a non-powered fume arm to the wall. The arm connected to a series of duct which ultimately fed into our 500/550 Series Industrial Fume Extractor. When the fume extractor was turned on, the power of the motor pulled air through the arm, into the duct, and into the unit’s filtration chamber which then expelled cleansed air back into the room.

If your shop is like most, you have several different operations going on within the general area. You may have multiple welding cells, open CNC machines, extrusion stations, and the list goes on. Each of these processes can release fume, dust, and other particulate into the air.

Even when source-capture extraction is utilized there is still going to be what is known as “renegade fume”. Renegade fume is simply the dust and particulate found in ambient air that is usually smaller and tends to remain airborne. While renegade fume may not be a major concern for some shops, the accumulation of it can make the air feel stuffy and stale.

General shop air cleaning

By adding industrial ambient air cleaners to the shop, you will not only improve air circulation you will also help trap and filter those particles and dust. Strategically hanging at least two air cleaners from the ceiling will help create a good flow of air. Depending on the size of your shop you might want to consider installing more units for adequate coverage.

UntitledOur Model 2000 Ambient Air Cleaner pulls up to 2,000 CFM through a MERV 7 pre-filter and then through a MERV 14 main filter ASHRAE bag. The Model 2000 features two-speed operation, a four-way adjustable grill, low maintenance filtration system and a design and color appropriate for many industrial settings.

Model 2000 units hanging from workshop ceiling

Model 2000 units hanging from workshop ceiling

The Model 700 Ambient Air Cleaner is slightly smaller than the Model 2000 yet offers several filter options and combinations. MERV 7 pre- and post-filters are located at the inlet and outlet. Inside the unit are two main filter chambers. Filter options include HEPA, DOP95, and 8 lbs. Activated Carbon. Depending on the application you can even combine these filters for both particulate and odor extraction (i.e. HEPA + 8 lbs. Carbon)

Model 700 Ambient Air Cleaner

Model 700 Ambient Air Cleaner

The most popular installation method for both the Model 2000 and Model 700 is to chain hang it from the ceiling using the four eye bolts attached to the unit. Another option is to mount the unit to our Fume Extractor Stand. The stand bolts to the floor and is 91” tall.

Model 700 mounted to Fume Extractor Stand

Model 700 mounted to Fume Extractor Stand

Model 700 mounted to Fume Extractor Stand

Contact Us

For more information about how to improve the air quality and circulation in your shop please contact one of our sales specialists. Call 800-799-4609, email sales@sentryair.com, visit our website, or fill out the feedback form below.