When welding whether it is MIG, TIG, or MMA Stick welding there are always by-products being produced such as welding fumes and gases. The fumes and gases produced can be beneficial to the welding process, however, there are some by-products that can be harmful to the welders. Therefore, protection from welding fumes and gases is essential. Using a welding helmet with a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) is an excellent solution to prevent inhaling these fumes and gases. Click here to look at our range of PAPR air-fed welding helmets.
Welding fumes are a mixture of particulates and gases varying in size. These fumes are produced when the metal is heated above its melting point and the vapours condense into solid particulates. The fumes produced can be affected by numerous factors such as:
- The welding process used (MIG, TIG, MMA stick welding, etc)
- The type of metal used as the parent metal and also the consumable metal.
- If there are any coatings such as resin, primers, and galvanising.
- Any contaminants on the parent metal such as oils and grease
- Rust on the metals
Exposure to welding fumes can cause a wide range of health effects with respiratory illnesses such as metal fume fever, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) being the more common issues that can be caused when inhaling welding fumes for prolonged periods.
Welding gases are generally used as shielding gas in order to protect the weld pool from any airborne contaminants. Gases such as carbon dioxide, argon, and helium are used as shielding gases whilst, acetylene, propane, and butane are used as fuel gases. Oxygen is also added into the welding process in small amounts in both the fuel and shielding gas mixtures. Here is our range of Adams gases for welding.
However, there are some gases that can be produced by the welding process. They are produced due to the decomposition of the material or by reacting with the high temperature and the gases or vapours in the air. Gases such as Nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and hydrogen chloride are the more common gases that can be produced in the welding process.
These gases when inhaled can cause a number of health issues to the welders ranging from headaches, and irritation to the body, to more serious internal organ damage and even death in higher concentrations.
Ways to stay safe from welding fumes and gases
It is important to avoid being exposed to fumes and gases during welding. Here are some key ways to minimise exposure to welding fumes and gases:
- Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the workplace. This will reduce the accumulation of fumes and gases in the atmosphere.
- Use local exhaust ventilation systems close to the work area to remove as many fumes and gases as possible from the welder’s work area. Click here to look at the range of fume extractors.
- Wear respiratory protective equipment such as the Esab Sentinel A60 Air Helmet. This will give the welder personal protection from fumes and gases and will provide the welder with fresh clean air. Click here to view our range of PAPR equipment.
- Follow safe work procedures and guidelines to reduce and avoid breathing in fumes and gases.