There are more than 80 different types of welding.
Each type of welding process gives off smoke or fume particles which may create adverse side effects after inhalation.
Smoke is defined as a suspension of solid particles in a gas, and fume is described as any airborne metal or metal oxide particles that condense from vapor.
This fume is precisely what is created when metal is heated up rapidly during welding. Part of the metal is vaporized at extreme temperatures and then quickly cools and condenses into sub-micron particles in the airstream.
Another significant concentration of welding particulate in the airstream comes from what is known as welding microspatter. These are liquid droplets that are small enough to remain airborne.
Why is welding smoke hazardous?
There are many hazardous substances in welding smoke. Most are the very fine, respirable particles of metals including chromium, nickel, arsenic, asbestos, manganese, silica, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead, and zinc.
Fumes containing manganese are one of the biggest risks encountered in welding smoke. Inhalation of the metal can cause serious damage to the brain and nervous system and may result in the onset of Parkinson’s disease, a crippling disorder that affects movement and balance.
Iron oxide can also be contained in welding fumes, which is very irritating to the respiratory system.
There is also cadmium which is used to coat metals and can cause lung disease, emphysema and kidney failure.
Reducing Your Exposure
Given that the vast majority of the respirable particles in the airstream are under 0.4 microns, a filtered ventilation system that can filter down to that level is needed.
At Sentry Air Systems, our standard ULPA filters are 99.9995% efficient on particles 0.12 microns and larger, and our standard HEPA filters are 99.97% efficient on particles 0.3 microns and larger.
Remember that the smaller particles are more respirable and must be filtered out of workplace air to reduce the possibility of health effects.
Wall Mounted Fume Extractor SS-300-SKY
For stationary welding applications. The model 300 Sky Sentry offers an easy to maneuver, operator-friendly, self-supportive flex arm. A variety of filter combinations including HEPA and activated carbon filters are available. Also available as a model 200 and 400.
Portable Welding Fume Extractor SS-300-WFE
For applications that require a self-supportive, portable welding fume extractor. Also available as a model 400 and 450.
Python Portable Floor Sentry SS-300-PFS-PYT
For applications that require a highly portable system. Flex ranges from 12’-22’. The Python Sentry is best used in hard to reach applications where a long hose is needed. The Python Arm is designed with flame retardant hose material and a magnetic capture hood with handle. Also available as a model 400 or 450.
Wall Mounted Fume Extractor: Video Demonstration
Hexavalent Chromium Efficiency Test Sentry Air Systems Industrial Hygiene Report
The Hazards of Welding Smoke (links to NIOSH)
“Particle Size Distribution of Gas Metal and Flux Cored Arc Welding Fumes” from the October 2005 edition of Welding Research
“Welding Fumes” from UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program (LOSH)
“Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for Welding Fumes” from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
For more information on Fume Extractors from Sentry Air Systems please click here or call 1-800-799-4609.