[Assessment of occupational exposure of welders based on determination of fumes and their components produced during stainless steel welding].Med Pr. 2011; 62(4):359-68.MP
Occupational exposure to welding fumes is a known health hazard. The aim of this study was to determine concentrations of welding fumes components such as: iron, manganese, nickel and chromium (including chromium speciation) to assess exposure of stainless steel welders.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The survey covered 14 workers of two metallurgic plants engaged in welding stainless steel (18% Cr and 8% Ni) by different techniques: manual metal arc (MMA), metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG). Personal air samples were collected in the welders' breathing zone over a period of about 6-7 h (dust was collected on a membrane and glass filter) to determine time weighted average (TWA) concentration of welding fumes and its components. The concentrations of welding fumes (total particulate) were determined with use of the gravimetric method. Concentrations and welding fume components, such as: iron, manganese, nickel and chromium were determined by ICP-MS technique. The total hexavalent chromium was analyzed by applying the spectrophotometry method according to NIOSH. The water-soluble chromium species were analyzed by HPLC-ICP-MS.
Time weighted average concentrations of the welding fumes and its components at the worker's breathing zone were (mg/m3): dust, 0.14-10.7; iron, 0.004-2.9; manganese, 0.001-1.12; nickel, < 0.001-0.2; and chromium <0.002-0.85 (mainly Cr(III) and insoluble Cr(VI)). The maximum admissible limits for workplace pollutants (TLV-TWA) were exceeded for manganese and for insoluble chromium Cr (VI). For Cr (III) the limit was exceeded in individual cases.
The assessment of the workers' occupational exposure, based on the determined time weighted average (TWA) of fumes and their components, shows that the stainless steel welders worked in conditions harmful to their health owing to the significantly exceeded maximum admissible limits for manganese and the exceeded TLV value for insoluble chromium (VI).