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Chromium and Nickel in Welding Fumes Essay

Chromium and nickel compounds are one of the many byproducts of the reaction between a metals and welding materials. Welders are exposed to these byproducts all throughout their welding works. However, too much exposure of a person to these by products may lead to serious health problems. In this paper, the disparity of American Welding Society safety facts and other organizations will be discussed. In addition, the ways to control exposure to the said compounds will be discussed. An overview of such effects of nickel and chromium compound fumes is listed by the AWS.

It is stated that nickel and chromium compound fumes are possible carcinogens to the human system. Health effects of alloys that contain nickel and chromium to welders and users are not yet determined. Possible health effects should be referred to National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (American Welding Society [AWS], 2003). When one say that a person is exposed to a certain compound, this means many things. However, in this paper fumes that has concentrations of nickel and chromium compound.

The disparity between the organizations will be examined. The American Welding Society (AWS) discussed three things, the immediate effects of exposure to fumes, the chronic or long-term effects of exposure to the fumes and protection against over exposure. In controlling exposure of a welder to nickel and chromium compounds, the AWS suggested a few things. First, welders or persons that are near welding sites should avoid inhaling the fumes. Second, Proper ventilation and exhausts should be provided to welding sites and arcs to avoid the gases to be near your breathing system.

Third, Air samples should be tested for the correct level of compounds in the air if ventilation and exhausts are not properly established in a welding location. Last, minimize the exposure to the said compounds (American Welding Society [AWS], 2003). In contrast to the recommendations of AWS, Nickel Institute has a more detailed recommendation for controlling exposure to fumes with nickel and chromium compounds concentrate. In their recommendation, the level of concentrations of nickel and chromium compounds in fumes should be limited to 0. 05 mg/m3 up to 0. 1 mg/m3.

In the recommendation, it is also stated that to control emission of fumes, proper choice of welding process must be employed. However, choice of welding process is usually determined by the technical and economic factors (Nickel Development Institute [NDI], 2001). Overall, safety of welders is still the concern that should be given proper handling. The goal of having a good control of the fumes with chromium compounds and nickel concentrations is to eliminate it. If one cannot eliminate it, then one should minimize it. First, proper welding process should be employed. Second, welder should work in a proper welding area.

This means that the workplace should be fully ventilated and has exhausts. Third, proper welder equipments and apparatus should be used. Fourth, proper welder uniform should be used. This is one of the most important things to be considered. If a welder has a proper uniform, then possible direct damages to the person may be minimized or neglected. Last, routine checks of the work area, equipments, apparatus, and welders should be done. This means that a routine check of the said things must be done, like checking fume concentration levels, checking welder health, etc, in order to secure health hazards that may arise during the work.

If the said recommendations are fully employed, then health hazards like over exposure to fumes can be minimized, if not eliminated. Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes is one of the most used materials in welding. Thoriated tungsten has thorium. Thorium is a radioactive metal that emits alpha, and small amounts of beta and gamma particles. Thorium is one of the best welding materials due to its long lasting, easy to use, low melting and low rate of consumption of electrodes. However, certain health hazards are associated to thorium. External exposure of a person to thorium is not a big deal.

The real danger of thoriated tungsten is when dust particles during the grinding of the thorium is ingested or inhaled. If a person accidentally ingested or inhaled thorium from grinding it, there is a big potential of internal radiation to the person who ingested or inhaled the dust particles (American Welding Society [AWS], 2003). The source of the thorium exposure is mainly derived from the grinding of the tungsten before use so that maximum arc stability of the electrode is achieved. In that process of grinding, thorium dust particles are released in to the open air that creates an unhealthy environment to welding personnel.

Health officers in work areas should employ some recommendations in order to reduce the exposure of workers to thorium dust particles. In order to eliminate thorium dust particles, one should eliminate the use of thorium tungsten electrodes. Many thorium-free tungsten electrodes are available. Some of these are cerium, lanthanum, yttrium, and zirconium tungsten electrodes. If thoriated tungsten electrodes cannot be replaced, authorities in work areas should utilize the use of proper handling of the said materials. That is following the Material Safety Data Sheet for thoriated tungsten electrodes.

One should also take in to consideration the containment of the dust particles. This means that one should contain dusts created from grinding as soon as possible in order to prevent the health hazards associated to it. In addition to that, work area authorities should also assess the ventilations systems. In that way, one can control the flow of dust particles that is not contained so that workers will be able to prevent inhalation and ingestion of the said particles. Containment of the dust particles is only the first step. The next step after it is the disposal of the dust particles.

Thoriated dust particles should be disposed properly and regularly. Disposal of thoriated tungsten electrode dust particles should be disposed with compliance to federal state (The Welding Institute, [TWI], 2008). Radiation obtained from thoriated tungsten electrode can be prevented if one complies with the recommendations that are given from the previous paragraph. There should be someone who is able to check if a work place complies with the recommendations. Federal authorities are one of the many institutions that implement the recommendations of the American Welding Society (AWS).

In addition to that, public health officers are also responsible in implementing the said recommendations. Furthermore, work places should also have their own health and safety officers that ensure a healthy working environment for its workers (American Welding Society [AWS], 2003). Health risks in work places can be prevented in many ways. Recommendations made by some institutions are welcomed in order to have a healthy work place for welders. If strict implementation of health and safety recommendations made by AWS is enforced, health risks like internal radiation can be prevented.

Knowledge is the key to being safe and healthy. Knowledge in proper handling of thoriated tungsten electrode and proper disposal of thoriated dust particles can eliminate hazards brought about not only by thorium but also by all of the other materials that can cause health hazards. In the end, safety and health of workers will still be the concern of everyone. References American Welding Society. (October 2003). Chromium and Nickel in Welding Fume. Safety and Health Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from http://files. aws. org/technical/facts/FACT-04.

PDF American Welding Society. (October 2003). Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes. Safety and Health Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from http://files. aws. org/technical/facts/FACT-27. PDF Nickel Development Institute (NDI). (March 2001). Stainless Steel and Welding Fume. Nickel Institute. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from http://www. nickelinstitute. org/index. cfm/ci_id/229. htm The Welding Institute (TWI). (2008). The Use of Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from http://www. twi. co. uk/content/faq_thoriated. html

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