Exposure to welding fumes irritates the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs. Long-term, chronic exposure to welding fumes is known to cause illnesses such as “metal fume fever”, and is known to lead to lung diseases. Common risks include occupational asthma and cancer. “Welder’s lung”, or pneumosiderosis, is another occupational lung disease that welders are at risk of developing. This particular disease occurs when workers, such as welders, are chronically exposed to iron dust.
Due to the risks and dangers of welding fume exposure and their carcinogenic nature, the ideal exposure level is zero and should be the target goal. Numerous systems can help prevent these harmful particulates from entering a welder’s breathing zone, protecting your lungs, health, and general well-being.
The best way to limit the potential health risks is to eliminate or reduce exposure to these fumes. Often this will mean an investment in quality equipment. Unless you enjoy black boogers, of course.
This article will explore fume extraction and ways to protect your respiratory health from welding fumes.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Next-generation welding helmets, such as the Plymovent PersonalPro, offer some of the best all-around protection from welding fumes. These units feature an additional PAPR unit, where fresh air is filtered and fed into the helmet during welding or grinding work. This air pressure differential helps to prevent welding fumes from entering your breathing area, keeping your airways and lungs clean and clear.
Portable units offer a high level of flexibility due to their compact nature. These units can be wall-mounted or used as a mobile unit. As such, these units are ideal for occasional welding or for locations where space is limited.
For facilities where welding is a regular activity but workspaces are flexible, a mobile unit may be the ideal choice to help protect your respiratory system. Mobile units may be wheeled around the workshop where they are most needed and offer heavier fume extraction. Higher-end models offer more efficient filters, with the MobilePro being our best-in-class mobile fume extractor.
On the other side of fume extraction, stationary extractors are ideal for facilities where welding takes place in predefined spaces. Often floor space is limited, but the need for effective fume extraction remains. In these circumstances, a stationary fume extractor provides all the benefits of source fume extraction while helping to keep work floors clutter-free.
Flexibility is one of the keys to efficiency. The DownDraft table is suitable for both welding and grinding applications, making it an ideal choice for shops where workpieces are generally consistent in size. These units pull fumes and sparks back, down, and away from your breathing area, helping to keep the air clean and clear.