In early 2017, welding fume was reclassified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) to Group 1 (Carcinogenic to humans). This change was primarily associated with the effects of UV exposure on the skin and eyes, for lung cancers and limited evidence for kidney cancer from welding fume exposures.
Long term significant exposure to welding fume can cause lung damage and various types of cancer, including lung, larynx and urinary tract. Chromium (VI), a specific chemical form of chromium can be created during welding of many stainless steels and non-ferrous alloys and is highly toxic and can cause cancer. Certain fumes (zinc is one) may induce metal fume fever, stomach ulcers, kidney damage and nervous system damage. Prolonged exposure to manganese fume can cause Parkinson’s–like symptoms.
For a closer look at the danger of welding fume and a strategic approach that can help reduce exposure download AWS’ white paper by following this link: https://www.awsi.com.au/literature-videos.