With welding fume now confirmed as carcinogenic to humans, many welders and companies are changing their stance on welders’ respiratory protection. But what is the best welding respiratory protection when welding specific types of materials?
It is crucial when selecting respiratory protection to take into account the ventilation conditions of the work environment surrounding the welder, as well as the welding process and materials used.
Here we take a look at the best welding fume protection when welding galvanised steel.
The Hazards of Welding Galvanised Steel
When welding surface-treated material like galvanised steel, a number of hazardous pollutants can be released including zinc oxide. Zinc Oxide exposure can cause zinc ague, also known as metal fume fever. Metal Fume Fever is an illness much like the flu with symptoms of fever, aches, chest tightness, coughing and a metallic taste in the mouth.
The Workplace Exposure Standards for Zinc Oxides
Currently, the Australian Workplace Exposure TWA (Time Weighted Average) for Zinc Oxides is set at 5mg/m3. This means that the maximum average airborne concentration of Zinc Oxide when calculated over an 8 hour working day, over a five day working week, must not exceed 5 milligrams of substance per cubic metre of air.
A Basic Guideline for Respiratory protection When Welding Gal
The below can be used as a basic guideline of what welding respiratory protection could be worn based on process and ventilation when welding Galvanised Steel. The below advice has only been offered as a basic guideline and should not be used as the only means of selecting a respirator. Always consult your safety engineer or an occupational hygienist.
Good environment with forced ventilation: A Powered Air Purifying Respirator is recommended.
Limited ventilation: Powered air with a particulate filter is suitable for Stick, MIG/MAG, however, you should consider Supplied Air via a regulator and filtration unit if plasma welding or 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).
Note: when welding gal (MIG/MAG/MMA), particulate protection (apart from in a restricted space) will give the required level of protection. You may, however, notice a sour taste or odour from the fume. If so, an additional odour filter available with the Adflo PAPR may help!
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