Exposure to respirable dust and manganese and prevalence of airways symptoms, among Swedish mild steel welders in the manufacturing industry
Welding fume consists of metal fumes, e.g., manganese (Mn) and gases, e.g., ozone. Particles in the respirable dust (RD) size range dominate. Exposure to welding fume could cause short- and long-term respiratory effects. The prevalence of work-related symptoms among mild steel welders was studied, and the occupational exposure to welding fumes was quantified by repeated measurements of RD, respirable Mn, and ozone. Also the variance components were studied.
A questionnaire concerning airway symptoms and occupational history was answered by 79 % of a cohort of 484 welders. A group of welders (N = 108) were selected and surveyed by personal exposure measurements of RD and ozone three times during 1 year.
The welders had a high frequency of work-related symptoms, e.g., stuffy nose (33 %), ocular symptoms (28 %), and dry cough (24 %). The geometric mean exposure to RD and respirable Mn was 1.3 mg/m3 (min–max 0.1–38.3 mg/m3) and 0.08 mg/m3 (min–max <0.01–2.13 mg/m3), respectively. More than 50 % of the Mn concentrations exceeded the Swedish occupational exposure limit (OEL). Mainly, low concentrations of ozone were measured, but 2 % of the samples exceeded the OEL. Of the total variance for RD, 30 and 33 % can be attributed to within-worker variability and between-company variability, respectively.
Welders had a high prevalence of work-related symptom from the airways and eyes. The welders’ exposure to Mn was unacceptably high. To reduce the exposure further, control measures in the welding workshops are needed. Correct use of general mechanical ventilation and local exhaust ventilation can, for example, efficiently reduce the exposure.
KeywordsWelding Respirable dust Manganese Symptoms Occupational exposure Mild steel
- Beckett WS (1996) Industries associated with respiratory diseases. In: Harber P, Schenker MB, Balmes JR (eds) Welding: occupational and environmental respiratory diseases. Mosby, St. Louis, pp 704–717Google Scholar
- Ewing W, Harris M (2005) Manganese and welding fume. The AIH Diplomate, issue 05–2Google Scholar
- Ferris BG (1978) Epidemiology standardization project (American thoracic society). Am Rev Respir Dis 118:1–120Google Scholar
- HSE (2006) Exposure measurement: air sampling. COSHH essentials general guidance G409. Health and safety executive, London. Available as http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/g409.pdf. Accessed 27 Nov 2012
- IARC (1990) Monographs on evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Vol. 49: chromium, nickel and welding. IARC Press, Lyon, FranceGoogle Scholar
- IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet AB (2006) Krom och mangan vid svetsning—exponering och behov av åtgärder. IVL Rapport B1675. [Swedish Environmental Research Institute (2006) Chromium and manganese during welding–exposure and need of measures]Google Scholar
- Jönsson LS, Tinnerberg H, Jacobsson H, Andersson U, Axmon A, Nielsen J (2013) Exposure to particles and ocular symptoms in welders. A study of dose-response relationship. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (in preparation)Google Scholar
- Lehnert M, Pesch B, Lotz A et al (2012) Exposure to inhalable, respirable, and ultrafine particles in welding fume. Ann Occup Hyg 56:557–567Google Scholar
- Nemery B (1990) Metal toxicity and the respiratory tract. Eur Respir J 3:202–219Google Scholar
- Sarić M, Piasek M (2000) Environmental exposure to manganese and combined exposure to gaseous upper respiratory irritants: mechanism of action and adverse health effects. Rev Environ Health 15:413–419Google Scholar
- Sharifian SA, Loukzadeh Z, Shojaoddiny-Ardekani A, Aminian O (2011) Pulmonary adverse effects of welding fume in automobile assembly welders. Acta Med Iran 49:98–102Google Scholar
- Swedish Work Environment Authority (2011) AFS 2011:18. Occupational exposure limits, StockholmGoogle Scholar
- Temel O, Sakar Coşkun A, Yaman N, Sarioğlu N, Alkaç C, Konyar I, Ozgen Alpaydin A, Celik P, Cengiz Ozyurt B, Keskin E, Yorgancioğlu A (2010) Occupational asthma in welders and painters. Tuberk Toraks 58:64–70Google Scholar