In a plant where flux-cored arc welding was applied to stainless steel, we investigated changes in airborne and internal metal exposure following improvements of exhaust ventilation and respiratory protection.
Twelve welders were examined at a time in 2008 and in 2011 after improving health protection. Seven welders were enrolled in both surveys. Exposure measurement was performed by personal sampling of respirable welding fume inside the welding helmets during one work shift. Urine and blood samples were taken after the shift. Chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni), and manganese (Mn) were determined in air and biological samples.
The geometric mean of respirable particles could be reduced from 4.1 mg/m3 in 2008–0.5 mg/m3 in 2011. Exposure to airborne metal compounds was also strongly reduced (Mn: 399 vs. 6.8 μg/m3; Cr: 187 vs. 6.3 μg/m3; Ni: 76 vs. 2.8 μg/m3), with the most striking reduction inside helmets with purified air supply. Area sampling revealed several concentrations above established or proposed exposure limits. Urinary metal concentrations were also reduced, but to a lesser extent (Cr: 14.8 vs. 4.5 μg/L; Ni: 7.9 vs. 3.1 μg/L). Although biologically regulated, the mean Mn concentration in blood declined from 12.8 to 8.9 μg/L.
This intervention study demonstrated a distinct reduction in the exposure of welders using improved exhaust ventilation and welding helmets with purified air supply in the daily routine. Data from area sampling and biomonitoring indicated that the area background level may add considerably to the internal exposure.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
ACGIH (2011) Threshold limit values for chemical substances and biological exposure indices. Cincinnati, Ohio: ISBN 978-1-607260-28-8
Cho HW, Yoon CS, Lee JH et al (2011) Comparison of pressure drop and filtration efficiency of particulate respirators using welding fumes and sodium chloride. Ann Occup Hyg 55:666–680
Colli G, Terzi R, Terzi M, Catenacci G (2005) Application of mathematical modelling for assessing the urinary half-times of nickel in stainless steel welders. G Ital Med Lav Ergon 27:427–430
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (2011) List of MAK and BAT values. Report No 47 Weinheim: Wiley-VCH
Fitsanakis VA, Zhang N, Garcia S et al (2010) Manganese (Mn) and iron (Fe): interdependency of transport and regulation. Neurotox Res 18:124–131
Flynn MR, Susi P (2010) Manganese, iron, and total particulate exposures to welders. J Occup Environ Hyg 7:115–126
Flynn MR, Susi P (2012) Local exhaust ventilation for the control of welding fumes in the construction industry—a literature review. Ann Occup Hyg 56:764–776
Gabriel S, Koppisch D, Range D (2010) The MGU—a monitoring system for the collection and documentation of valid workplace exposure data Gefahrstoffe—Reinhaltung der Luft. Air Qual Control 70:43–49
Hahn J-U (2005) Aufarbeitungsverfahren zur Analytik metallhaltiger Stäube IFA-Arbeitsmappe digital. Available at: http://www.ifa-arbeitsmappedigital.de/6015. Accessed 15 Mar 2013
Hebisch R, Fricke H–H, Hahn J-U, Lahaniatis M, Maschmeier C-P, Mattenklott M (2005) Sampling and determining aerosols and their chemical compounds. In: Parlar H, Greim H (eds) The MAK Collection for Occupational Health and Safety, Part III Air Monitoring Methods. Wiley, Weinheim VCH 9 ISBN 3-527-31134-3
Hobson A, Seixas N, Sterling D, Racette BA (2011) Estimation of particulate mass and manganese exposure levels among welders. Ann Occup Hyg 55:113–125
Kiefer M, Trout D, Wallace ME (1998) Health Hazard Evaluation Avondale Shipyards, Avondale Louisiana. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/1997-0260-2716.pdf. Accessed 15 Mar 2013
Lehnert M, Pesch B, Lotz A, Pelzer J, Kendzia B, Gawrych K, Heinze E, Van Gelder R, Punkenburg E, Weiss T, Mattenklott M, Hahn J-U, Möhlmann C, Berges M, Hartwig A, Brüning T, the WELDOX Study Group (2012) Exposure to inhalable, respirable, and ultrafine particles in welding fume. Ann Occup Hyg 56:557–567
Lindberg E, Vesterberg C (1989) Urinary excretion of chromium in chromium platers after discontinued exposure. Am J Ind Med 16:485–492
Liu S, Hammond SK, Rappaport SM (2011) Statistical modeling to determine sources of variability in exposures to welding fumes. Ann Occup Hyg 55:305–318
Meeker JD, Susi P, Flynn MR (2007) Manganese and welding fume exposure and control in construction. J Occup Environ Hyg 4:943–951
Moehlmann C (2006) Simultane personenbezogene Probenahme der E- und A-Fraktionen in Schweißrauchen Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA). Available at: http://www.ifa-arbeitsmappedigital.de/3025. Accessed 15 Mar 2013
OSHA (2006) Occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium final rule. Fed Regist 71:10099–10385
Pesch B, Weiss T, Kendzia B, Henry J, Lehnert M, Spickenheuer A, Heinze E, Kaefferlein H, Van Gelder R, Berges M, Hahn JU, Mattenklott M, Punkenburg E, Hartwig A, Bruening T (2012) Levels and predictors of airborne and internal exposure to manganese and iron among welders. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 22:291–298
Petersen R, Thomsen JF, Jorgensen NK, Mikkelsen S (2000) Half life of chromium in serum and urine in a former plasma cutter of stainless steel. Occup Environ Med 57:140–142
Pocock D, Saunders JC, Carter G (2009) Effective control of gas shielded arc welding fume. Research Report No 683 Norwich, UK: health and safety executive available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr683.htm. Accessed 15 Mar 2013
Schaller KH, Csanady G, Filser J, Jüngert B, Drexler H (2007) Elimination kinetics of metals after an accidental exposure to welding fumes. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 80:635–641
Stamm R (2001) MEGA-database: one million data since 1972. Appl Occup Environ Hyg 16:159–163
Tossavainen A, Nurminen M, Mutanen P, Tola S (1980) Application of mathematical modelling for assessing the biological halftimes of chromium and nickel in field studies. Br J Ind Med 37(3):285–291
Weiss T, Pesch B, Lotz A, Gutwinski E, Van Gelder R, Punkenburg E, Kendzia B, Gawrych K, Lehnert M, Heinze E, Hartwig A, Käfferlein HU, Hahn JU, Brüning T, the WELDOX Group (2013) Levels and predictors of airborne and internal exposure to chromium and nickel among welders—results of the WELDOX study. Int J Hyg Environ Health 216(2):175–183
Zschiesche W, Schaller KH, Weltle D (1992) Exposure to soluble barium compounds: an interventional study in arc welders. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 64:13–23
The WELDOX study and this intervention study were financially supported by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). We thank the staff working for the MGU measurement system, especially Rolf Reichel and Frank Fiegehenn, and all welders for having participated. We gratefully acknowledge the field team, especially Hans Gese, Hans Berresheim and Eleonora Gutwinski.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Martin Lehnert and Tobias Weiss have equally contributed.
About this article
Cite this article
Lehnert, M., Weiss, T., Pesch, B. et al. Reduction in welding fume and metal exposure of stainless steel welders: an example from the WELDOX study. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 87, 483–492 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-013-0884-7
- Exposure reduction
- Welding fume
- Biological monitoring