Stainless steel is one of the most dangerous materials to weld
A type of welding used mostly with stainless steel is the Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. It is an arc welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode. A shielding gas is used to protect the welding area protected from atmospheric contamination, with a filler metal normally used, (though there are some welds which do not require it.. A highly ionized gas and metal vapors known as a plasma conducts a constant-current welding power supply.
Numerous studies done with animals, mostly rats, show that exposure to fumes produced during stainless steel welding dangerously cause ill-effects on health. In a research by Antonini (2007), it was discuss that a lot of stainless steel welders have experienced bronchitis, metal fume fever, lung function changes, and an increase in the incidence of lung infection. His research focused on assessing the early effects of stainless steel (SS) welding fume inhalation on lung injury, inflammation, and defense responses on rats.
It was found that short-term exposure of rats (around 6 days) to SS welding fume caused significant lung damage and suppressed lung defense responses to bacterial infection. Similar findings were found by other researches by Antonini (2005) where he focused on possible carcinogenic effects of stainless steel welding. He found out that “a soluble MMA-SS welding fume was found to generate reactive oxygen species and cause DNA damage, lung macrophage cytotoxicity and in vivo lung cell apoptosis.
” Such responses are shown to involve various toxicological and carcinogenic processes. He also conclude that the effects observed appear to be related to the soluble component that is predominately Cr. Such findings are quite uncomforting but probably true. Safety in stainless steel welding does not only involve hazards in the workplace. It is then advised that individuals in contact with stainless steel welding fumes to take great caution to avoid future health problems.
References: Antonini J. M. (2007).Effect of short-term stainless steel welding fume inhalation exposure on lung inflammation, injury, and defense responses in rats. Pathology and Physiology Research Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, USA Antonini J. M. (2005). Effect of stainless steel manual metal arc welding fume on free radical production, DNA damage, and apoptosis induction. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. Vol. 279, No. 1-2. Springer Netherlands. Retrieved, January 10, 2008 from Biomedical and Life Sciences database.