April 25th, 2022 | Posted in General
Welding is both a labor-intensive and dangerous profession, and the health and safety of welders is a top priority. Although exposure to extreme heat is a major concern, so is the manganese in welding fumes, which can cause serious health effects if proper control measures aren’t taken.
Read more about manganese exposure in welding and how you can reduce the risks and help improve workplace safety.
Manganese is a mineral element and essential nutrient that’s found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and other kinds of food, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “A healthy person with normal liver and kidney function can excrete excess dietary manganese.” However, when this mineral is inhaled, it bypasses the body’s normal defense functions and can cause adverse health effects to the central nervous system.
In the welding industry, manganese is incorporated in consumables, such as rods and wires, for three types of welding processes:
When these processes are used for carbon steel welding projects, some of the manganese and steel are vaporized by the heat of the electric arc. As a result, they rapidly condense into the nano-scale particles called welding fumes.
There are several reasons why manganese is added to commonly used welding consumables, including:
Welders who use consumables with manganese, and also work in a confined space, face overexposure through inhalation. This can cause a variety of negative health effects, such as damage to the lungs, liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that “Mn workers [workers exposed to manganese] performed worse than controls on several measures of neurobehavioral function…Five measures of eye-hand coordination (precision, percent precision, imprecision, percent imprecision, and uncertainty) reflected more erratic control of fine hand-forearm movement in the Mn-exposed group than in the controls, with mean scores on all five measures being highly significantly different for the two groups.”
Additionally, in Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Fabian Taubel explained, “In the case of welders, neurological and neurobehavioral deficits, such as changes in mood and short-term memory, altered reaction time, and reduced hand–eye coordination, may occur when workers are exposed to levels of manganese less than 0.2 mg/m3 in welding fumes.”
Research has shown that it is likely welders are overexposed to manganese, and its effect on hand-eye coordination diminishes a critical skill. Not only that, but prolonged exposure to manganese can lead to Parkinson-like symptoms.
A safe workplace is of utmost importance for welders, and to prevent overexposure to welding fumes, keep these control measures in mind:
If you’re interested in an air cleaner for your welding workplace, our team at Air Quality Engineering is ready to help. We offer three types of industrial welding fume extractors, including electrostatic, conventional, and cartridge types. Each of these technologies is available in overhead, ambient, and portable configurations, and we can help you decide on the best one for your situation.