What is Welding Fume?

by | Jan 14, 2020 | News

Welding fume is the most hazardous substance given off from the welding process. The fume is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particles – metal oxides.

TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding produces the least fume but can produce significant concentrations of Ozone and Nitrous oxide.

MIG (metal inert gas) and MAG (metal active gas) welding processes produce the more fume than TIG, whilst MMA (manual metal arc) welding produces the most fume. 

The makeup of the fume varies depending on the type metal that is being welded:

Mild Steel Welding fume – Contains mostly iron oxide with small amounts of manganese which is used in the rods. Manganese has been found to affect the central nervous system and there are ongoing proposals to reduce its WEL. Please note that there is a recent change in enforcement from the HSE following new scientific evidence from IARC suggesting that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer.

Stainless Steel Welding Fume – Contains Nickel and Chrome VI oxides. Both of which are carcinogens.

Control measures

There are different types of control measures used to control welding fume. The most effective and primary control measure should be local exhaust ventilation (LEV). The type of LEV used depends on how the welds are performed.

The main types of LEV used are:

  • Flexible Arms
  • On Torch Extraction
  • Extracted Booths

Once the engineering controls are in place, respiratory protection should be considered. The most effective are positive pressure respirators which are built into the welding visor.  Please note that all LEV systems must be tested in accordance with HSG 258 in a thorough examination and test by a competent person.  

Validates Approach

Validate Consulting can assist companies aiming to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002).

Our air monitoring surveys can measure personal exposure as well as background levels of hazardous dust, vapours and fumes etc.

Get in touch with Validate Consulting, on 01246 541951, or fill in our enquiry form to discuss your requirements.

We’ll then provide you with a quotation and a proposal or services. Once you’ve accepted our proposal, we then schedule the work.

Following our site visit we’ll provide a detailed report providing advice on current working practices and control measures to further reduce worker exposure as well as the appropriate use of PPE (personal protective equipment).