In the workplace, welders can be exposed to serious health threats caused by welding rod fumes. Welders can suffer injuries caused by UV radiation, which can burn the eyes and skin. Chronic exposure to UV radiation can result in cataracts and skin cancer.
One of the most serious welding rod injuries occurs because of prolonged exposure to dangerous levels of the welding rod fume manganese. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious welding rod injury, please contact us to learn more about your legal rights and options. We can evaluate your case at no charge to determine if we can help you seek compensation for your injuries and suffering.
Welding Rod Injury
Welding rods are solid man-made items that are formed to a specific shape during industrial and commercial applications. When maintained in the manufactured shape, welding rods do not pose significant health risks because they do not release more than trace quantities of hazardous chemicals in this state. However, under normal conditions of use, welding rods release significant quantities of metal fumes and other hazardous chemicals that can pose human health risks.
Welding rods can contain or be coated with materials such as manganese, zinc, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, and/or vanadium. Any or all of these materials can be potentially hazardous to those exposed. Manganese is one of the metal fumes released during welding rod use that is known to cause serious injuries.
What is Manganese?
Manganese is a metal similar to iron, which is naturally found in certain rocks. In very small amounts, manganese is an essential trace mineral used by the human body to metabolize fats and proteins. It also supports the immune system, bone growth, and more. However, this mineral becomes toxic when the body is exposed to dangerous quantities, as is often the case with exposure to welding rod fumes.
When alloyed with iron to form ferromanganese, manganese can increase the hardness, durability, and strength of steel. Certain compounds containing manganese are also used to make batteries, ceramics, pesticides, and fertilizers.
Manganese Exposure: How Does it Occur?
If the fumes and/or dust from manganese welding rods are inhaled, this material can become lodged in the lungs and some portion may reach the blood stream. This method of manganese exposure can pose serious health risks, particularly neurological damage.
In addition to exposure from welding rod fumes, individuals living near hazardous waste areas can also be exposed to manganese. External (dermal) exposure to soil or water containing manganese poses little risk, since the skin will not absorb dangerous amounts of the metal. If contaminated dirt or soil is swallowed, most of the manganese consumed will be purged by way of excretion. However, ingestion of high amounts of manganese dust from welding rods can pose significant risk of injury. The greatest risk posed by manganese is inhalation of airborne welding rod fumes or manganese dust particles.
Preventing Welding Rod Injuries
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not implemented standards to regulate exposure to welding rod fumes in the workplace. However, OSHA has set limits on occupational manganese exposure at five milligrams per cubic meter (5mg/m³) during a 40-hour workweek. Levels beyond these limits are known to cause serious adverse health effects.
While the risks of manganese have been understood since the beginning of the nineteenth century, welding rod manufacturers and employers continue to expose workers to dangerously high levels of manganese through welding rod fumes. If proper precautions are not taken to prevent workplace exposure to manganese and manganese welding rod fumes, the injured party can file a welding rod lawsuit against the manufacturer and/or their employer to recover monetary compensation for their injuries and suffering. Please contact us to learn more.
Welding Rod Fume Injuries
The OSHA recognizes that hazardous exposure to welding rod fumes can cause a number of deleterious health effects. These welding rod injuries include:
- Injury from acute exposure: exposure to welding rod fumes containing manganese and other metals can cause irritation of the nose, throat, mouth, lungs, skin and gastrointestinal system.
- Respiratory impairment: Workers exposed to mild steel welding fumes can develop respiratory impairment including chest tightness, trouble breathing, cough, etc. However, these impairments may be the result of exposure to other toxicants in the working environment, such as crystalline silica. The respiratory effects of welding rod fumes seem to be aggravated in smokers.
- Metal Fume Fever: Exposure to welding fumes can cause metal fume fever, which resembles influenza. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, muscle pain, and a metallic taste in the mouth.
- Infertility: Among welders, there is a higher incidence of infertility. Manganese fumes, in particular, known to cause impotence and reduced sperm count (hypospermia). There appears to be an increased frequency of abnormalities in semen quality associated with duration of exposure to welding rod fumes. Abnormalities in sperm have been found highest among stainless steel welders.
- Kidney damage
- Manganism/ Parkinsonism
Manganism and Parkinsonism
The most serious welding rod injury is a serious and often irreversible neurological condition known as manganism or Parkinsonism. The terms “manganism” (manganese poisoning) and “parkinsonism” are often used interchangeably, since the former causes symptoms strikingly similar to Parkinson’s disease.
The ill neurological effects of manganese have been documented in scientific literature dating back to the late 1800s. Since then, thousands of welders, miners, and industrial workers have developed the serious condition known as manganism or Parkinsonism.
Recent medical evidence confirms the link between manganese welding fume exposure and the development of Parkinsonism. In numerous cases, individuals with prolonged exposure to welding materials have developed the symptoms similar to Parkinson ’s disease an average of 20 years before the average age of onset.
Symptoms of Parkinsonism
- Loss of balance
- Gait disturbances
- Slow, shaky movements; tremors
- Impaired hand-eye coordination
- Awkward or clumsy movements
- Loss of motor functioning
- Muscle stiffness, pain, cramps, aches
- Frequent falling
- Reduced ability to produce facial expressions
- Slow or difficult speech
- Trouble chewing and/or swallowing
- Weakness and fatigue
- Decline in intellectual functioning
- Mood disturbances; depression
Getting Medical and Legal Help
If you suspect that you or a loved one has developed a welding rod related injury caused by exposure to manganese fumes, contact your family physician or a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating this devastating condition.
If you or a loved one has developed manganism/Parkinsonism or a related welding rod injury, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your losses and suffering. Please contact the law offices of Oshman & Mirisola today to speak with an experienced attorney who can answer your questions and determine the best course of action for you and your family.