INDUSTRIAL WELDING FUME COLLECTION

The Challenge

Capturing dust and fumes generated during welding presents a unique challenge. With welding, floor space is typically at a premium. By combining guidelines found in the ACGIH “Industrial Ventilation: A Manual of Recommended Practice for Design” with our in-field experience and state-of-the-art filtration, Camfil APC will correctly size a cost- and space-saving filtration system that is reliable, durable and easy to maintain. Let Camfil APC’s expertise in this application help you put in a safe dust collection system.

In the Farr Gold Series welding area of our own high bay facility, we once relied on the large, open shop doors for ventilation. But production greatly increased and so did weld smoke and fumes. It was especially a problem during winter when we kept the doors closed as much as possible. View this video case study on how a Farr Gold Series dust collector solved air quality problems and reduced energy costs in our own welding shop.

  1. Respiratory Health — A well-designed and maintained dust and fume collection system is needed to prevent respiratory problems and keep facilities in compliance with current air quality requirements. A good dust collection system can eliminate the need for personal respirators and the challenge of getting employees to wear them.
  2. Maintenance — The equipment that fabricating plants currently use has reached a new level of sophistication. Controls and other computerized systems are more sensitive than the machinery of 10 or 20 years ago. If dust is not collected properly from welding stations and similar areas, electronic controls can fail, shutting down the operation and requiring emergency repairs. This causes production downtime, frustration and costly losses in productivity.
  3. Energy Savings — In cold climates, a proper weld fume ventilation system can significantly reduce your energy costs by recycling filtered air and lowering the need for costly makeup air.

Overexposure to weld fumes can cause a wide range of health problems.

  • Metal dust particles in welding fumes are a leading cause of eye irritation in factories. Many workers who are exposed to welding fumes also get upper respiratory infections and cough up black material or suffer from frequent headaches.
  • Manganese, the primary metal in welding wire, can cause workers to feel exhausted, apathetic and weak. It is also a primary cause of headaches. Chronic overexposure to these fumes leads to a condition known as “manganism,” which is characterized by neurological and neurobehavioral health problems. The permissible exposure limit (PEL) for manganese is 5.0 milligrams per cubic meter TWA. Manganese is the trigger for EPA Rule 6X. Learn more about OSHA PELs here.
  • Hexavalent chromium or hex chrome is a carcinogenic substance produced during welding or other types of “hot work” on stainless steel and other metals that contain chromium. Hex chrome overexposure can result in short-term upper respiratory symptoms or eye or skin irritations. The greatest long-term health risk associated with hex chrome exposure is lung cancer. Other major health effects include damage to the upper respiratory system and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis. Respiratory tract problems can include inhalation damage to mucus membranes, perforation of septum tissue between the nostrils of the nose, and damage to the lungs. In addition, there may be injury to the eyes, skin, liver and kidneys. Once in the body, hex chrome typically targets some of the body’s organs. A worker exposed to hex chrome may also experience symptoms such as sinus irritation, nosebleeds, stomach and nose ulcers, skin rash, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath. The current OSHA PEL for hex chrome is extremely stringent—5 micrograms per cubic meter TWA. (Most other PELs are listed in milligrams. 5 micrograms = 0.005 milligrams. The exposure limit on hex chrome is 1000x less.)
  • Zinc oxide is a pollutant generated by hot work on galvanized steel. Exposure can result in a condition known as “metal fume fever,” which is a short-term illness where severe flu-like symptoms occur after a break from work. Due to the delayed reaction, it is often confused with regular influenza and in many cases goes undiagnosed. The current PEL is 5.0 milligrams per cubic meter TWA.
  • Welding fumes are known to cause headaches. A customer who manages 60 welders reported experiencing daily headaches for years. After installing a properly designed air filtration system, the headaches stopped.

It is imperative to follow OSHA exposure guidelines for these and other metals, particularly where workers are at risk for long-term health effects.

Watch “The Air You Breathe” video to see what happens when workers are exposed to an unhealthy factory environment and how Camfil Air Pollution Control provides clean air solutions in the workplace. Camfil APC is dedicated to the belief that “Clean Air Matters” and is a human right that employees, friends and family members all deserve.

Federal EPA Rule 6X

Manufacturers who use or consume 2000 lb of wire or rod are subject to EPA NESHAP Rule 6X, which strictly regulates smoke and fumes being exhausted outdoors. Learn how Rule 6X applies to you, what you should look for in your air and manufacturing environment, and the appropriate tests to see if you are affected.