When it comes to welding stainless steel, what is the best welding respiratory protection that your team should be using? Here we take a look at the hazards of welding Stainless Steel and offer a basic guideline for welders’ respiratory protection when welding stainless steel
Health Effects of Welding Fume from Welding Stainless Steel
The fume generated by welding Stainless Steel can contain Chromium and Cadmium. The health effects of breathing in these fumes, while not wearing a respirator, can include irritation of the respiratory system, sore and dry throat, chest pain and breathing difficulty.
Chronic effects include kidney damage and emphysema.
However, the most concerning aspect of breathing in Chromium or Cadmium is the increased risk of cancer.
The Workplace Exposure Standards for Chromium and Cadmium
Currently the Australian Workplace Exposure TWA (Time Weighted Average) for Cadmium is set at 0.01 mg/m3. The TWA exposure limit for Chromium is set at 0.5 or 0.05 mg/m3 depending on the chemical form. To put this into perspective, general welding fume has a TWA exposure limit of 5 mg/m3. This illustrates the risk of being exposed to fume generated by welding Stainless Steel containing Cadmium and/or Chromium.
Welding Respiratory Protection When Welding Stainless Steel
The below can be used as a basic guideline of what respiratory protection could be worn based on process and ventilation when welding Stainless Steel. The below advice has only been offered as a basic guideline and should not be used as the only means in selecting a respirator.
Always consult your safety engineer or an occupational hygienist.
Below are the recommendations when using Stick, MIG, TIG, Plasma Welding or Cutting.
Good environment with forced ventilation: A Powered Air Purifying Respirator is recommended.
Limited ventilation: Particle and gas filtration using a powered air respirator with both a high efficiency particulate filter and A1 gas filter installed. Depending on how limited the ventilation is, supplied air may be required for plasma welding/cutting.
Restricted space: supplied air is always recommended when working in a restricted space. Powered and supplied air respirators must never be used in atmospheres Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH).