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Welding smoke inhalation

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Glenn Brooks

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#1
well, finally recovering from inhaling ozone and welding byproducts from a small welding job (Lincoln tombstone stick welder with 6018 rod) three weeks ago. I was finishing a few miscellaneous welds - nothing big- maybe two or three sticks (rods) worth of work on a 12" gauge RR bridge structure I've been building. However, the welds were deep inside the structure, so I was overhead, upside down and backwards applying the stinger. After I got done realized I had inhaled a bunch of black soot. My mine exhaust fan didn't blow the smoke away until after I breathed my fair share, due to my close proximity directly over the weld site.

Almost immediately that night I developed a sore throat and multitude of shooting pains across the top of my head. 10days latter the sore throat and pains gradually subsidized. Two weeks in lungs started filling up with liquid and congestion, to the point I couldn't lay down at night to sleep, due to wheezing and lack of oxygen absorption in the lungs. Finally now Iam mostly recovered.

So three things: ozone inhalation apparently occurs when UV from the welding spark comes in contact with air- creating high amounts of localized ozone. It supposedly dissipates rapidly. However I was directly in the ozone zone, hence overexposure. Secondly, the welding byproducts, including ozone, created something analogous to a chemical burn in my air passages and lungs. This takes three to four weeks to heal completely, depending on exposure - and results in pneumonia like lung infections, and swollen airways passages, all of which restricts oxygen intake and makes life generally miserable. Finally, the initial damage from inhalation opens up opportunities for secondary infections - in my case I believe I contracted a fairly debilitating allergic reaction to secondary allegens from the spring leaf out here in the PNW. The allergy reaction lodged in the smoke inhalation sites and magnified the initial irritation, restricting my ability to breath, two weeks after the initial damage. So I ended up with a massive week long chest congestion, big time sinus attack, and three weeks of headaches, sore throat, and constricted airways due to inflammation.

Long bunch of whining, wheezing actually, above. But my point is, you gotta take all the safety precautions every time-regardless of how small the project is. Or risk getting laid up. Tomorrow will hopefully be my first day back on my feet.

Regarding equipment - I haven't yet found a face mask that works with eye glasses under my welding hood. Every one I've ever tried fogs up my glasses within a few seconds, rendering it impossible to see what Iam welding. So I don't use one. Now Iam going to see if I can find a respirator that works with eye glasses. (Open to suggestions!)

Second take away - NEVER, violate the fresh air rule. If the weld is hard to reach - Move the work or relocate the fan to keep welding byproducts out of your face. (I always weld with the overhead shop door open and the work piece right in the door way - with a portable high intensity, mine exhaust ventilation fan blowing over the work piece. ) But, you can't sit on top of the weld and block the fan and expect the thing to work! Move the damn workpiece so the weld is downstream from the airflow!!

Glenn
 
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roadie33

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#4
I have the same problem Glenn. Glasses fog up with any type of mask.
I was thinking on it just the other day, (the wifey says that's dangerous), I wear a CPAP at night and thought, why wouldn't one of those work for a fresh air mask. Mine can push anywhere from 2 to 16 PSI. The only problem is, those pumps are not cheap, about $700.
Then I thought why not try and find a cheap HVLP spray gun with a pump and kill 2 birds with one stone.
I found a pump on fleabay but haven't bought it yet. Still giving it some more thought.
If anyone else has a idea on something that would work, I am sure myself and others that weld would appreciate it.
 

brino

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#5
Wow Glenn!

I am glad you're still with us.

Thanks for sharing your story. I will think about this every time I set up a weld......and tell my sons too!

Take care.
-brino
 

Holescreek

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#6
That's some scary stuff. If you were young it would've knocked 30 years off your life. Can you put some cheaters inside your helmet to look through and leave your glasses off?
 

woodchucker

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#7
I have a Scott Pack type respirator, its got a carbon filter (needs replacement as it's way past its date), uses a pump to pump air through. Too bad there's no lens for welding.
Glad to hear you are recovering Glenn. I heard about a welder using milk when he breathed in fumes. Mostly from welding galvanized (zinc) plated stuff. The milk helped somehow.
Hopefully that helps if someone ever feels like they got over exposed to ozone, it might help. Just throwing it out there. Don't know that it actually works for either ozone or galvanized.

I have a small squirrel cage fan that I use to blow the smoke away. I should get another fan to pull the air.. pull doesn't work as well, but if you get an airflow it should help by having one pushing and one pulling. Often when pushing it gets turbulent after a short distance and stops going forward and starts mushrooming out. If you pull at the same time it might just create a cleaner flow and get it the air heck out of town.
 

sanddan

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#9
You might try switching to MIG with gas. Way less smoke and fumes than stick or flux core MIG. Tig welding is even better, very clean welds.

Glad you are doing better.
 

Glenn Brooks

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#10
Thanks all, for the get well wishes. Iam up and around today with only a bit of wheezing.

Jeff, I researched the galvanized metal -milk remedy a bit. Apparently welding galvanized steel adds zinc into the smoke plume - which is deadly when ingested in even small quantities. Calcium somehow bounds with zinc lodged in your tissue structure and enables drawing it out of the body. So milk contains significant calcium, hence old time welders drank a lot of milk to help process the zinc. I haven't read anything that says calcium or milk helps with the inhalation of the other heavy metals and assorted particulates in welding smoke.

Fresh air, diffusion of the welding fumes, and avoidance still seem to be the best remedy. -even for the small jobs!

Glenn
 
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Terry Worm

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Good to hear that you are improving, Glenn. Years back I used to do a lot of welding on heavy equipment and quickly learned to avoid those fumes.

As for the old trick of drinking milk to avoid getting sick from welding galvanized material, yes, it works, but is no help for the rest of it. Despite that, avoidance is the better option. Similar to the old adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
 

Rustrp

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#13
Good to hear that you are improving, Glenn. Years back I used to do a lot of welding on heavy equipment and quickly learned to avoid those fumes.

As for the old trick of drinking milk to avoid getting sick from welding galvanized material, yes, it works, but is no help for the rest of it. Despite that, avoidance is the better option. Similar to the old adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
The milk myth helps settle the stomach but it doesn't really do anything to eliminate the hazardous chemicals that's been ingested. Extracting the fumes is always the best.
 

ACHiPo

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#14
Regarding equipment - I haven't yet found a face mask that works with eye glasses under my welding hood. Every one I've ever tried fogs up my glasses within a few seconds, rendering it impossible to see what Iam welding. So I don't use one. Now Iam going to see if I can find a respirator that works with eye glasses. (Open to suggestions)
Glenn
Glenn,
There is a solution, but it's not cheap. 3M makes a powered respirator welding helmet--there's a filtered fan that fits on your waist away from the welding and blows fresh air into the mask. They run about $1300 new. I've seen them onCL for a lot less, but still several hundred bucks. On the plus side the 3M helmet is highly regarded and very light. It can also be used without the welding filter as a dust respirator for woodworking or other dusty activities.
 

Glenn Brooks

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Glenn,
There is a solution, but it's not cheap. 3M makes a powered respirator welding helmet--there's a filtered fan that fits on your waist away from the welding and blows fresh air into the mask. They run about $1300 new. I've seen them onCL for a lot less, but still several hundred bucks. On the plus side the 3M helmet is highly regarded and very light. It can also be used without the welding filter as a dust respirator for woodworking or other dusty activities.

Thanks. I think I've been given a link to one of these for sale. Done know how much yet, but Will look into it. BTW, Plesanton is a super town. Enjoy visiting there last year and looking around.

Glenn
 

Ulma Doctor

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#16
I'm sorry to hear of the exposure Glenn, but i'm glad to hear that you are recovering.
i was put into some welding situations where i had to raise a fuss with the foreman for ventilation before i'd even start welding.
they liked my welding alright, but they didn't like my attention to details like that.
my health, i felt, was more important than their profit.
i still wonder about my blood concentration levels from welding stainless
 

bob308

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#17
they make hoods for welding that cover your head a hose comes up the back from a filtered air pump on your belt. the ones we had were Racal great for grinding too. expensive but then what does new lungs cost?
 

ACHiPo

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they make hoods for welding that cover your head a hose comes up the back from a filtered air pump on your belt. the ones we had were Racal great for grinding too. expensive but then what does new lungs cost?
Bob,
That sounds like the 3M models I mentioned.

http://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-...1405+8720539+8720551+8720747+3294857497&rt=r3

I Googled Racal respirator welding helmets, but didn't come up with anything.

One cool thing about the 3M units is that the welding filter can be removed and they can be used for woodworking, etc.

I did find a source for used "certified" units at about 1/3 the price of new:
https://obtainsurplus.com/safety/3m...Cae_NjE_aVSq-Z1PWyWgg1UDxouaDqysu_hoCIsbw_wcB
 

British Steel

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#19
Drinking milk won't deal with the effects of smoke and fumes on your lungs, its purpose is to reduce your biological uptake of the heavy metals in the smoke / fumes / by contact - they bind to the same parts of your metabolism that calcium does so plenty of milk swamps em and dilutes their effect.
When, many moons ago, I worked for the phone company the cable jointers got a tax-free daily allowance for a quart of milk because of the lead-sheathed cables they worked with :)

Dave H. (the other one)
 

ACHiPo

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#22
google Racal welding helmets. you will get a lot more hits.
Looks like 3M bought out Racal? When I Google Racal Welding Helmet, the Airstream 3M models come up.
 
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