There are many elements present in the weld plume, including zinc, iron, aluminum and nickel, but the real health threats are manganese and chromium. Although OSHA enforces exposure limits for each individual element, there is currently no OSHA standard for general weld plume. So why should you be concerned about welding fumes in your shop? Because they are hazardous to your technicians’ health and your bottom line.
For the most part, the manganese and chromium generated during welding comes from the welding consumables – the “stick welding” electrodes and flux. Check the hazardous material listings of the material safety data sheet (MSDS) that come with your welding consumables to see the high content of these harmful elements.
Overexposure to manganese has been shown to cause neurotoxic damage to the brain, producing a long list of ailments including sexual dysfunction, debilitating tremors or shakes, lack of emotional control and difficulty walking. Chromium is an occupational carcinogen that has been directly related to cancer, so a low exposure limit to these welding fume elements is considered prudent.
Chief states that the best way to lower your technicians’ risk of breathing harmful airborne particulates is to use a heavy-duty weld fume extractor, because it captures weld fumes before they can reach the technician’s breathing zone. Other means, such as vacuum systems, exhausting fumes outdoors and the use of fans and open doors are not as effective, and often simply send the toxic fumes somewhere else instead of capturing them.
The Chief fume extractor uses an electric fan to draw weld fumes through a flanged bellmouth hood that focuses extraction power at the fume source, resulting in greater fume capture than competitive designs. Fumes are drawn into a large ProTura Nanofiber cartridge filter with a MERV 15 efficiency rating. These nanofibers – fibers 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair – are not used in competitive HEPA filters. They allow air to pass through the filter despite surface dust buildup to help improve extraction airflow efficiency, provide longer filter life and reduce energy consumption.
Some fume extractor arms are made of plastic tubing. The Chief fume extractor’s arm is manufactured of powder-coated aluminum with cast aluminum joints. This heavy-duty construction helps prevent wear and breakage in even the most demanding shop settings. The seven-foot arm holds a bell-shaped extraction hood with an integrated 360-degree handle for easy maneuvering, and an ember catcher prevents hot particles from reaching the filter.
The compact and easy-to-use Chief fume extractor was purpose-built for today’s collision repair industry. The technician simply rolls the fume extractor to the work area, positions the extraction hood near the metal being welded, and turns the motor on. Options include an optional arc detector that will automatically turn on the fume extractor as soon as the technician strikes the arc, and a hood-mounted light kit to help illuminate the work area.
To learn more about the Chief fume extractor, visit www.chiefautomotive.com/Shop-Tools/Fume-Extractor/, contact your local Chief distributor or call (800) 445-9262.