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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Re: When did zinc fumes become deadly?

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Author  [Modern View]

03-27-2013 08:22:13

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Is there any problem in spot welding galvanized sheet metal? I do some, and never thought of it being a problem.[/quote]

For welding processes where little if any visible fume or particulate is being generated, the health hazard is minimal in a general open shop environment. We have had welders wear fume collection monitors with no measurable health hazard when the work is covered by fume collection or they are not working with a heavy smoke generating process such as flux-core or stick welding. If the yellow greenish fumes can be seen or that distinctive metallic taste/smell is apparent, then the level of exposure needs to be limited.
Spot welding with good ventilation would not be considered a significant problem unless a person is required to perform the operation in a closed chamber without cross flow ventilation. If both you and the spot welding are in a non-ventilated location, get a fan going to provide fresh air. Spot welding is still welding and even though small, there are zinc oxide fumes being produced.
Some union contracts used to require a milk break every 1/2 hour or so when welding or cutting galvanized steel. Incidentally, the milk soothes an irritated gut lining, but does nothing to solve the inhaled zinc oxide fume. So, if you can't be outside when cutting up the old galvanized water tank, then wait till you can. As mentioned by others, some people have a low tolerance and others higher, however, in all cases, zinc oxide fumes will catch up with prolonged exposure.
I used to downplay welding safety issues but as I get older I see the results of not taking care as we all knew we really should. All the science and data collection in the world is of no value when ignored.
In trying to improve welder safety and so they have the opportunity for a long retirement, we furnish our welders with all the standard safety items, gloves, helmets, coats, face shields ect., and if they so choose, the latest $1,400 clean air welding helmets and I don't have the least problem with it.

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Dick L

03-27-2013 11:04:44

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 Re: When did zinc fumes become deadly? in reply to forty40, 03-27-2013 08:22:13  
Good information for sure and as an employer myself if I was hiring welders I would feel and do the same as you. An employer has no way of knowing how sensitive an employee"s system is to any of the elements in a work place and all precautions needs to be taken.

When I weld for myself it is my rear in the sling not an employee"s that I am responsible for.

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Stan in Oly, WA

03-27-2013 09:25:12

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 Re: When did zinc fumes become deadly? in reply to forty40, 03-27-2013 08:22:13  
Good informative response. You sound like a great employer. Here's hoping you prosper so it will catch on.


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