Metal oxidation from arc welding fume is detrimental to human health

Metal oxidation from arc welding fume is detrimental to human health
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Research finds the toxic chemical compound, metal oxidation, forming from arc welding fume is infiltrating the human body through the respiratory system.

International toxicologist scientists of the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), Russia, have found harmful nanoparticles are formed in the process of arc welding using the most common types of electrodes today. Suspending in the arc welding fume, the metal oxidation infiltrates the human body through the respiratory tract.

The toxicity of metal oxidation

Regardless of the types of electrodes used, the scientists have found 41% oxide particles of iron, 18% manganese, 6 % silicon, as well as elements of chromium, get into the welding fume. These particles could vary in shape and their average diameter is 5 nanometres, which essentially includes them into the group of harmful nanoparticles. The smallest and consequently the most harmful nanoparticles form air suspensions in the human respiratory zone.

Kirill Golokhvast, Vice President for Research of the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), professor of Russian Academy of Sciences explains the study further: “The chemical compounds formed in the process of arc welding and infiltrating the human body through the respiratory system are toxic because they contain metal oxidation products.

“Particularly dangerous are welding particles approaching the size of 1 nanometre. From previous studies, we know that such nanoparticles are able to translocate even into the central nervous system (CNS). ”

How is arc welding fume formed?

During the welding, roughly 3% of the electrode and a small part of the material being welded are vaporised. The arc welding fume that arises contains micro- and nanoparticles of metal oxides. Such particles do not sediment for a long time, forming air suspensions, which can be evenly distributed throughout the working space.

Moreover, such welding suspensions can easily move far beyond the working area along with the air flow.

Scientists believe that this mechanism should be taken into account when safety regulations are outlined to protect the health of workers. At the same time, the modernization of safety measures will not be possible without a fully comprehensive detail of how exactly the harmful welding nanoparticles are formed, what shape and size they are, and what elements are contained in their composition. Equally, scientists are interested in the mechanisms of distribution of such particles throughout working spaces and beyond.

Today, there is no common point of view on how the parameters of welding – methods, electricity current strength etc. affect the volume of welding fume and, accordingly, the level of emission of harmful nanoparticles

Researchers hope that the results of their future research will help to reduce the risks to the health of people in the industrial areas where welding is carried out.

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