All MetalShaping

All MetalShaping (
-   Shop Safety (
-   -   Breathing in Mig fumes and abrasives question (

GeorgeG93 06-13-2017 08:20 AM

Breathing in Mig fumes and abrasives question
Hi guys hoping to get some second opinions on some health related aspects of mig welding and general body repair. Basically I'm wondering if other people get sick like I do from inhaling mig welding fumes and dust particles from flap discs and abrasives, even when the metal has been cleaned as much as possible to remove paints, primers, chemicals etc. I've gone to the lengths of buying a face mask which helps a lot and having a fan nearby to increase fresh airflow helps too, but no one else I know takes these measures and I don't know if it's just me that's affected like this.
My symptoms when affected are:

Feeling thirsty
Inability to sleep easily
Clouded thinking

I'm particularly affected by galvanized metals which I rarely work on, it gives off this thin, opaque but wispy white smoke, if I go anywhere near that I'm in for feeling rough for a couple of days. There is a primer on some sheet metal that I sometimes have to use, that also gives off similar smoke and has similar effects but it's not galvanized that's for sure. I always do as much as I can to get all possible coatings off metals.

When I first started serious welding 2 years ago, it was on a monster weldathon on a Ford Transit that was literally 6 months of weekends welding, and during that time I (naively) didn't use any real body protection other than a welding mask and goggles, and since then I seem to have had these adverse reactions to welding fumes which I never remember having before. I'm unsure if my condition was caused by all that unprotected welding or if it's just a normal thing that I'm affected by, which I'd much prefer as I'm concerned that I've just breathed in too many nasty fumes from paint, under seal, rust and welding in the past and I've made myself extra sensitive to it.

Does anyone else regularly go to such lengths to protect themselves from working?

Many thanks

zekeymonkey 06-13-2017 08:49 AM

None of these fumes are good for you and can cause different health issues depending on your exposure level and how sensitive your body is. Sometimes it's just allergies, but other issues can be caused too. Galvanized is particularly bad for you and can cause metal fume fever.

Most of us should probably have better ventilation and personal protection when welding and grinding. How many of us have blown our nose and black grime comes out from grinding? As I've gotten older, I've gotten better, but still not good, about wearing a mask when grinding. I've even been considering buying a PAPR welding helmet since I've found that I get a headache and a stuffy nose after welding for more than a few minutes.

Gareth Davies 06-13-2017 09:12 AM

The nausea you feel is caused by ozone (O3 - unstable oxygen) created during the welding process. I'd recommend an air fed welding screen and to get one that will allow you to use it as a grinding screen. There is no harm in taking extra precautions with your health as you only get one shot at it. I've known people in the past who flatly refused to weld anything that was galvanised, even out in the open. Welding fumes are nasty anyway without breathing in a load of toxic zinc fumes. Don't be put off by people who tell you they aren't affected by it - I've worked for an idiot who told me that I was being fussy when I used to feel sick - it's your health, look after it!

crystallographic 06-13-2017 11:51 AM


Originally Posted by GeorgeG93 (Post 137460)
I'm wondering if other people get sick like I do from inhaling mig welding fumes and dust particles from flap discs and abrasives,

I don't know if it's just me that's affected like this.

I'm particularly affected by galvanized metals

since then I seem to have had these adverse reactions to welding fumes which I never remember having before.

Does anyone else regularly go to such lengths to protect themselves from working?

Many thanks

Hi George,

We are indestructible until we aren't.

Sensitivity increases with exposure.

Galvanized will give you "zinc chills" if you breathe the smoke from welding it. Drink lots of milk to neutralize it.

Wear good breathing protection, good enough that you cannot smell the smoke from burning primers, or solvents.

Take the precautions now, even when those around you have not learned the life lessons, yet.

Stay healthy, for youthful vigor does not last forever.

cliffrod 06-14-2017 06:04 AM

Your body does change, including sensitivity to various substances. Listen to it.

Air screen, air supply respirator, proper air filter/mask (fume and/or particulate rated- not all are equivalent, no matter what the ad says...), proper suction to remove fumes from the work area , protective clothing, technique and more. The folks who scoff at your concerns aren't the ones to heed.

Breathing fumes and dust is easy to consider. Don't overlook your skin and the clothing you wear. It will greatly extend exposure & contact, as well as transfer contaminants well beyond the original field of work. So when you get into your vehicle after working, the irritants puff out of your seat and it starts all over again- maybe even with the a/c cycling it endlessly in the cabin. Same thing happens when you plop down on the couch or your favorite chair at home....

It may seem like overkill, but kill is the key part of the statement. Be safe and do what you think is necessary. Knowing your limits is important. Sometimes you have to change directions and no longer do it. There's no reason to destroy your body or even your life to prove a point....

Take care.

Marc Bourget 06-14-2017 09:50 AM

Just placed to rest a friend of 43+ years. Depending on the "victim", the insidious part of the warnings, above, is that onset of his COPD was delayed until after he stopped working and really "gutted" his retirement years.

KAD 06-14-2017 01:28 PM

Miller makes some really nice small welding masks with replaceable filters meant to be worn behind your welding helmet.

There pretty inexpensive and since they were made for welding might provide better protection than a generic dust filter.

They make a couple of different models for different applications and they run about $30 dollars.

Nothing beats a pressurized mask but everyone can't afford them and they can be really cumbersome to use at times.

just my .02

GeorgeG93 08-29-2017 07:38 AM

Thanks for all the advice guys and my apologies for the late reply. My condolences to Marc, I'm sorry to hear that news, it is a stark reminder of how serious these matters are. I've taken a lot of the advice given here, sorting better ventilation and air filtration measures, I must say I do feel a lot better for doing so, and at the same time I feel this improves my work by a significant amount, the healthier I feel the better able I am to do my work, even if some of the precautions take extra time to employ

mr.c 08-29-2017 10:40 AM

I suffer from heavy metals toxicity (30+ years). It has ruined my life.
When I weld or use the plasma cutter, I (most of the time) have a CPAP machine that I replaced and use the old one in the shop. There is what they call a pillow top mask that injects fresh air directly into your nostrils. It fits under my welding helmet. I set the unit behind me and away from the source of smoke or vapors. I can see the smoke inside the helmet but I am breathing air from somewhere else. It works for me.
You might know someone that has a CPAP machine that hates it and doesn't use it. Or build your own source of fresh air supply. It just needs a low pressure with a decent amount of flow.
Or throw down the big bucks for a forced air welding helmet. There are some folks on here that have those. Maybe they will share some input here.

Phil Minton 08-29-2017 04:10 PM

I believe peer pressure is a major contributor to many not taking appropriate safety precautions. I'm constantly having the same conversation with my son (aged 27) who often works in rail tunnels and has already been referred to occupational health re his lungs and I keep reminding him to wear a mask but unfortunately none of his colleagues do. My own background was as a fireman at the time when you had to "experience" fire conditions without breathing apparatus for your first 3 months. 40 years later I can personally vouch that I wish I had worn BA or a mask more often, even while welding or doing diy at home.

I'd also just mention a hazard that often goes unheeded, the fumes from petroleum based liquids. Not just their flammability in an enclosed environment but what breathing them in can do. After an exposure to toluene fumes at a factory back in the 90's my lungs sill react to any petrol vapours now they are sensitized.

Lastly and as mentioned previously, on car restoration courses we were advised not to use plasma cutters without appropriate masks due to the particles created when cutting. How true this is I don't know but I'd prefer to opt on the side of caution. In the workshop I have Drager P3 masks for both me and my son. I like them because they are easy to wash, comfortable to wear and easy to fit the filters for either dust or fumes depending on the job in hand.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:20 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.