Are welding fumes carcinogenic?There are multiple welding fume health risks. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies welding fumes as a Group 1 human carcinogen, linking it to lung cancer and kidney cancer. Welding releases numerous gases, silicates, and more; Visible fume clouds are mainly metal particles, metal fluxes, or fine dust. Chronic exposure to fumes is known to cause illness. Pneumosiderosis, or Welder’s Lung, is linked to iron dust. A recent study also found that iron oxide is highly toxic to the lungs and is a key contributor to lung cancer. Other metal particles can include cadmium, lead, or nickel depending on the metal and method used. For example, Chromium is produced from welding stainless steel. Chromium 6, or hexavalent chromium, is known to cause autoimmune diseases and cancer. Welders aren’t the only ones at risk; workers in the metal industry, shipyards, construction work, and transportation are also possible victims. Learn more about the health risks associated with fume particles here. Welders have a 16% greater risk for lung cancer, 30% greater risk for kidney cancer, 40% greater risk for bladder cancer, and 78% greater risk for mesothelioma.
Welding fume extraction helps reduce risk of cancer
Portable fume extractors are suitable for small weld and fabrication shops, confined spaces and spaces, and situations where welding is occasional and typically light. These systems can be wheeled or carried as needed.
Mobile fume extractors are designed to be wheeled where needed and can range from light-duty, as pictured left, or medium/heavy duty, as pictured below. Mobile fume extractors are perfect for when welding rarely occurs in one static location and when central duct systems are unavailable. Medium and heavy-duty fume extractors are available in both disposable filter models, which have lower upfront costs. Self-cleaning models have higher upfront costs but have lower upkeep than disposable filter models.
Stationary fume extractors are wall-mounted and work well when welding occurs in static locations. These also come in light/medium/heavy-duty varieties. Stationary fume extractors are also available with either disposable filters or self-cleaning models.
Downdraft tables are perfect for when welding is known to fit certain dimensions. Additionally, downdraft tables eliminate the need to readjust the extractor hose. These tables are suitable for welding and grinding operations.