A welder’s lung, sometimes called “siderosis,” is a type of lung disease caused by fumes and dust particles at a certain workplace. A welder’s lung is often obtained because of the filthy environment that contains a large quantity of dust or fumes inside the working environment.
Exposure to welded fumes may lead to some common problems for welders and those workers who are deployed in shipyard welding, automobile industry, heavy-duty equipment manufacturing, construction, and railroad track. In addition, welding fumes are generally categorized as carcinogenic for humans.
The Hazards of Welding Fumes
Welding fumes and some irritating gases like ozone and oxides of nitrogen may cause metal fume fever, irritation, or any type of lung disease. Abrasive blasting can produce a large quantity of dust which includes metal oxides. This may also contain RCS or the so-called Respirable Crystalline Silica. Every situation may be different from the other. The risk of it always depends on the procedures, surface contaminants, road & flux, the metal, and the location where the tasks are done.
In general, welding fumes may provide negative long-term effects on the health of individuals. These may also result in chronic lung disease and may increase the risks of cancer and occupational asthma. In addition, dust and fumes from allied procedures may cause some other lung-related problems that are worse.
If you’re exposed to Respirable Crystalline Silica, then your health may be at risk since you may develop silicosis. This kind of disease makes it difficult for you to breathe. Thus, it may also increase your risk of lung infections. It typically follows numerous years of being exposed to RCS. But exceptionally high exposure over a few years or months may also result in acute silicosis. Furthermore, this may also cause death from the months of being exposed to hazardous chemicals, gases p, or fumes. On the other hand, prolonged or heavy exposure to silica under several conditions which produce silicosis may cause cancer in your lungs.
If worse comes to worst, there’s a possibility that you may develop COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease that prevents you from breathing properly. COPD is a technical term that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
How to Control Welding Fumes and Prevent Welder’s Lung?
Since welding fumes and other dust particles in a certain workplace are hazardous to humans, it is essential to take precautionary measures within the working environment. But how can you control welding fumes or dust particles inside your workplace?
The best way to keep fumes and dust particles to a minimum is by using equipment called a welding fume extractor when doing your tasks in the welding industry. This equipment can help get rid of the contaminants like paints, gases, or chemicals in the air and make your working environment clean. Through working in a healthy and safe working environment, you can have a guarantee that you will not experience a welder’s lung or siderosis.
Aside from using that equipment, the following are some suggested measures or precautionary procedures that you need to do when working in the welding industry or construction:
- Use some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when working — You must have a complete PPE when doing some welding works in the company. In addition, of course, a facemask is one of the protective garments that you need to use since it can protect you from inhaling dust particles, chemicals, or fumes in your workplace.
- Protect your organs, especially the lungs, by having adequate ventilation — When you are working indoors, it is important to open the windows and doors to freely enter and leave the air in your surroundings. But even with proper ventilation in your working area, it is still necessary to use a respirator when working. You should utilize an appropriate cartridge in the respirator that can filter the dust and fumes in your area.
- Always watch your health conditions — As much as possible, don’t keep yourself from too much exposure to hazardous areas with a high quantity of fumes. But since your occupation is prone to these chemicals and fumes, you always need to watch your health status. Visit your doctor regularly and let him check your health status. This is one of the ways on how to determine the early symptoms of possible lung concerns. In this way, you can have assurance that you will be given extra care while working in your workplace.
Never risk yourself getting into work without any protection. Always use a specific type of equipment like welded fume extractor that can extract or remove dust and fumes within your workplace. A proper caution at work is necessary for you to make sure that you will not experience siderosis or welder’s lung. The company or the industry should ensure health protocols as compliance with rules and regulations related to the health concerns of the workers. Besides, it is also their responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment to all their employees.