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Why Weld Fume Extraction Is So Important

You might not think much about the air you breathe. But what you might not know is that welding can produce fumes that are harmful to your health. That’s why it’s important to have a welding fume removal system in place.

A welding particulate removal system eliminates the fumes and smoke produced by welding operations and protects workers from the hazards of exposure to those fumes. If you’re a welder, it’s important to understand the dangers of welding fumes and take steps to protect yourself from them.

What is Welding Fume?

Welding fumes are created when metals are welded together. The fumes contain several dangerous chemicals, including lead, mercury, chromium, and cadmium. Exposure to these fumes can cause several health problems, including cancer, respiratory problems, and damage to the nervous system.

That’s why having a good weld smoke extraction system is crucial. It’s not enough to vent the fumes to the outside world. You need a system that captures and filters all the dangerous chemicals in the fumes. This is the only strategy to ensure your workers are safe from the dangers of welding fumes.

The Dangers of Welding Fumes

Welders often breathe in weld fumes without realizing the dangers they’re facing.

Weld fumes can be particularly dangerous for welders who don’t have proper welding fume suction equipment. Inhaling weld fumes can lead to serious health problems, including lung cancer.

That is why having welding fume extractors are essential in the workplace. A good welding air quality system will remove welding fumes from the air, ensuring welders can breathe safely.

Several different welding exhaust systems are available on the market, so choosing one that’s right for your needs is important. 

Make sure to research and choose a system that effectively removes welding fumes from the air. By removing these fumes from the work area, you’re protecting the health of your welders and ensuring they can work safely and comfortably.

Domestic and International Standards for Welding Fume Removal

Fume suction device for welding

There are domestic and international standards for controlling weld fumes, and your weld fume extraction system should meet or exceed these standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the regulating body in the United States, and have established standards related to welding, cutting and brazing. This is to ensure that the fumes are filtered as effectively as possible and that your safety is always the top priority.

Types of Welding Fume Removal

You should be aware of types of weld fume extraction systems. It’s important to consider whether you’re using manual welding or robotic welding, the size of your workspace, and the specific hazards associated with a particular job. Below, are the most popular weld fume extraction systems:

  • Portable or mobile fume extraction systems are small and easy to move between workspaces. Portable fume extractors (also known as weld fume vacuums) are great for localized welding operations and can be set up quickly to extract fume before it has a chance to spread.
  • Stationary fume extractors: Not only does it keep your workspace safe in a fixed spot, but it also helps improve the air quality so you can breathe easier, as well as helping reduce unpleasant odors that come with working with some materials.
  • Extraction arms: These are fixed systems with an arm extending over the work area and use compressed air to capture fumes as they rise up. This type of system is best for larger operations where a lot of welding occurs simultaneously.
  • Centralized fume extraction systems are larger systems that simultaneously capture fumes from multiple welding stations. They’re perfect for factories with a lot of daily welding activity.

No matter the type of system you choose, it’s important to ensure that it has all the necessary components—including filters—to prevent hazardous particles from entering your breathing air

Welding Fume Removal Solutions for the Workplace

When it comes to welding fume removal, you have a few options. The first is local exhaust ventilation (LEV), which can draw hazardous fumes away from the work area. However, this only works if the equipment is set up correctly and properly maintained.

Another solution is an enclosure such as a weld cell or welding booth, which would completely close off the space to isolate the welding process from the rest of your workspace. This option may be more practical in certain settings because LEV requires a large amount of air movement and may only be feasible with certain constraints.

You’ll also want to make sure that you’re investing in personal protective equipment, such as proper welding helmets, respirators and safety glasses, for anyone working with the welding process – this way, any fumes that may remain can be filtered out before they enter their lungs or eyes.

And finally, make sure you stock up on air purification systems that can remove toxins like ozone, formaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your workspace atmosphere. Doing so will help ensure that your welding environment is safe and clean for everyone who spends time there.

Benefits of a Good Welding Fume Extraction System

A man enjoying clean air

Welding smoke extractors are designed to keep people safe, but their benefits go beyond this. A good welding fume removal system can provide several other benefits, including better air quality and productivity.

The air quality of the workplace will be improved since welding fumes are removed from the environment before they have a chance to accumulate. Removing these contaminants will reduce the risk of health problems associated with breathing them in. In addition, fume extractors can also filter out smoke and dust particles which can also cause health problems.

In terms of productivity, having a fume removal system for welding in place increases welders’ visibility, making it easier for them to do their job accurately and quickly. With proper ventilation and smoke removal, welders will be able to breathe much more clearly which will lead to a happier, healthier, and more efficient workplace. With a good welding fume removal system, there is no need for welders to take multiple breaks, and this helps increase productivity levels for the whole team.

Conclusion

In short, welding smoke and fumes are dangerous, and welding fume extraction is important. If you’re welding without proper ventilation, you’re putting yourself at risk for serious health problems during daily welding processes. Welding air purification systems can help protect you from these dangers, and they’re worth the investment.

A Shortage of Skilled Welders in America

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of September 2022, there were approximately 428,000 welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers employed in the United States, with the manufacturing sector accounting for 64% of those jobs.

The median age of welders in the United States is 39 years old, with about 26% of welders being over the age of 55, and 18% being under the age of 25.

The majority of welders are male, with only 3% of welders being female.

Shortage of skilled welders

There is currently a shortage of skilled workers in the welding trade. The American Welding Society (AWS) has predicted a shortage of about 314,000 welders by 2024.

This shortage is due to a combination of factors, including:

  • an aging workforce with many skilled welders nearing retirement,
  • low numbers of new entrants to the field,
  • an increased demand for welding skills in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, construction, and energy production.

Efforts to fill the void

Manufacturing companies are taking a variety of measures to attract skilled welders in light of the shortage, including:

  • Offering competitive wages: Companies are offering higher wages to attract skilled welders, as the demand for these workers continues to grow.
  • Providing training programs: Many companies are offering on-the-job training programs to help workers acquire the necessary skills to become welders.
  • Offering sign-on bonuses and other incentives: Some companies are offering sign-on bonuses, relocation assistance, and other incentives to attract skilled welders.
  • Improving working conditions: Companies are improving working conditions to attract skilled welders, such as providing better safety equipment including OSHA-compliant fume extraction systems, comfortable work environments, and flexible work schedules.
  • Collaborating with trade schools and vocational programs: Some companies are collaborating with trade schools and vocational programs to help train the next generation of welders, and to attract students to the field.
  • Increasing use of automation: Manufacturing companies are also investing in automation to help fill the gap created by the shortage of skilled welders. This includes using robotic welding equipment, which can help improve efficiency and reduce the need for human welders.

Overall, manufacturing companies are taking a wide range of measures to attract skilled welders, as this shortage continues to be a major challenge for the industry.

Benefits Of Weld Fume Extraction In The Workplace

Many employees all across the world spend the majority of their days at work. Therefore, it is the responsibility of business owners to make sure that the working environment is conducive to being safe and comfortable for their employees. A safe workplace is crucial for every employee’s productivity, health, and increased staff effectiveness on the job.

Especially in high-risk industries like mining and manufacturing, workplace safety should be a top priority. These industries use the welding process quite frequently, exposing everyone in the zone to harmful fumes which can affect the respiratory system and adversely impact their health and safety.

Particulate matter of hazardous metals like aluminum and lead and gases like argon, nitrogen, hydrogen fluoride, and carbon monoxide can be detected in welding fumes. Long-term exposure to these fumes can cause a number of cancers, including lung, throat, and urinary tract cancer.

Employers are accountable for the workplace environment, safety precautions, and how machine operations are carried out. Observing the regulations set forth by OSHA, AWS, and NIOSH, you can guarantee the health and safety of your personnel.

Fume extraction systems are an excellent solution for such workplace issues, particularly in the manufacturing industry. If your work is more welding-oriented and involves the production of hazardous fumes, consider investing in a suitable welding fume extractor.

What Is A Welding Fume Extractor?

Weld fume extraction systems are tools utilized to remove welding fumes produced when working with metals used in welding applications. The use of a vacuum mechanism is to suck the fumes from the source of production such that the toxic fumes do not get an opportunity to escape into the welding room or other functioning areas.

This equipment is usually made for industrial purposes. Fixed suction systems are mainly designed and conceptualized by industry-leading companies in accordance with the needs of the customer to create a perfect plan for extracting the Welding sparks and smokewelding fumes through the insertion of airflow pipes that will filter the air to purify and reuse in the same environment.

Additionally, a number of different designs are available for the assembly of the mechanical arms that provide the suction depending on their length and the perimeter of the surface where the welding process will take place.

Applications Of Welding Fume Extraction Systems

Every job that requires welding or the creation of small particles and toxic fumes can use a fume extraction system.

Methods Of Weld Fume Extraction

An efficient fume extraction system will protect workers from health hazards by keeping dangerous fumes below the prescribed levels. Select a welding fume extraction system manufactured and designed to meet your work-specific requirements.

This diversity of requirements is why we have different fume extraction methods that can fit different needs. The five most prevalent techniques are as follows:

1. Portable welding fume extractor

Portable weld fume extractors have a filter fitted inside a frame with casters. It consists of a snorkel or an arm attached to a blower. It requires the snorkel to be placed at the center to be effective. Therefore, as the object being welded moves, the arm must be moved too. It also requires frequent filter changes.

2. Self-contained downdraft tables

In a self-contained downdraft table, the filters are placed inside the table, and the blower pulls air from the environment. This technique has the minimum installation requirements and costs just as much as a portable welding fume extractor. Self-contained downdraft tables are the safest solution for welding and grinding purposes.

3. Empty downdraft tables

These rely on the operations of a central fume and dust collector to take the collected air away from the operator into an external collector. They are not ducted and do not need power. One major strength of this technique is that empty downdraft tables are highly customizable and flexible but bring on a lot of additional expenses in installation and scalability.

4. Central fume and dust collectors

Empty downdraft tables are ducted to central fume and dust collectors. They do not need much maintenance as filters will typically only require an annual change although this will vary depending on the type of metal being welded, and the presence of oil on the metal surface.

5. Hanging ambient air cleaners

Hanging ambient air cleaners work as a secondary cleaning system to remove the leftover residues of harmful fumes after the primary solutions. The units are typically installed 12-14 feet above the ground, either suspended from the ceiling or mounted on a wall. Generally, they are an affordable and quick solution.

Why Is Welding Fume Hazardous?

Welding processes first appear to be safe. Simply uses heat to join two or more metal components, right? But several risks are involved, many of which are directly connected to the air you breathe. Welding fumes are hazardous due to the welding particles they contain, which are the source of airborne contaminants, such as:

  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Lead
  • Aluminum Oxides

If you are unsure how these chemicals affect you, let us list the problems for you. Long and short-term exposure to these chemicals is linked to a number of health issues, including:

  • Throat Cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Respiratory issues
  • Nervous system damage
  • Vision problems
  • Acute Pneumonia
  • Fume fever

Welding fumes contain carcinogenic chemicals in high amounts that might result in malignant tumors in the body. As understood from the discussion above, these compounds have a harmful effect on the human body, both mentally and physically. In general, a number of variables, including genetic predisposition or environmental effects and personal immunity, influence the risk of developing cancer. This is why we do not have an exact quantified count of the impact these substances can have. However, there is evidence that the risk of cancer rises with increasing exposure to these dangerous compounds in welding fumes.

Many studies have discovered that welders have a higher chance of developing lung cancer because of long hours of exposure.

What To Consider Before Choosing A Fume Extractor

To maintain exposure at or below an acceptable level, it’s crucial to consider the work conditions, practices, and risks in the welding applications in your facility before beginning to choose a welding fume extraction system. Man welding Weld fumes extraction systems need to be placed correctly and used with necessary guidelines based on the specific requirements of the space in order to ensure effectiveness.

When buying a welding fume extractor, you can ask yourself the following questions for a better idea of which type of fume extractor will work for your office.

  • What is the size of your workshop or office where the welding process will happen?
  • How much welding is likely to take place?
  • What government-suggested regulations need to be met?
  • Does the filter meet your application requirements?
  • Is the fume extractor system flexible?
  • Is the fume extractor system friendly for operators?
  • Does the equipment meet the required level of airflow?

Benefits Of A Welding Fume Extractor

One of the best methods that guarantee safety in industrial environments through low exposure to hazardous fumes is to have fume extraction systems in the workplace. Employees can have efficient productivity in a safe working environment. Listed below are more such advantages linked to the operation of a fume extraction system in the workplace.

Improved Air Quality

Many offices in high-risk industries have poor air quality. It could harm your health if you or your employees spend most of the day in such a setting. However, you may enhance the quality of air and make your workplace healthier for everyone by using a weld fume extractor. The fume extractors function by collecting all of the fumes produced throughout the welding and manufacturing operations and releasing them into the air.

Improved Worker Productivity

Workers typically perform better when they are comfortable and in good health. Because a weld fume extractor minimizes welding fumes, you may give your staff a healthier working environment. Additionally, the team will take fewer days off, ultimately saving you money.

Improved Employee Morale

As they say, happy employees are productive employees. Your employees will immensely appreciate the safety precautions you take since they will see that you are concerned about their welfare. That can significantly improve everyone’s mental health and foster a positive work environment. This will be a step towards a better employer-employee relationship and building trust.

Reduced Absenteeism

A healthy workforce is directly related to a healthy workplace and lower absenteeism. As production increases, truancy will be lower, which is crucial for any organization. The majority of businesses are supposed to provide medical insurance for their staff members. If the workplace is unsafe and unsanitary, the expenses of treatment and medication for staff members as a result of the absence of a fume extraction filter could be quite high.

Healthier Work Environment

We all know that welding processes produce dangerous gases. Every welding procedure has some amount of fumes, and these gases can do a lot of harm if not handled carefully. Installing welding fume extractors in the welding area helps to ensure that all gases are quickly taken away from people before they can affect employees physically. The smaller the particles, the more dangerous they are. Fume extractors are essential to every welding sector for this reason.

Superior Weld Quality

The constant presence of fumes has an impact on the weld quality. The welds may become porous if the fumes are not sufficiently removed, resulting in weak and brittle joints. However, since a fume extractor will eliminate all dangerous vapors, you can enhance the weld quality.

Prevention of Corrosion

A number of corrosive gases are released in the office air during welding. These pollutants can also harm the surfaces and equipment in the office. Using a weld fume extractor in the workplace can be helpful in preventing metal pieces from corroding. Many industrial-grade fume extractors can assist in reducing corrosion.

Equipment Longevity

As mentioned above, the equipment used at work can also are impacted by the fumes created by welding. The equipment may be damaged and have a shorter lifespan due to the corrosive nature of welding fumes. Due to a fume extractor’s ability to eliminate corrosion, you can prolong the life of the machinery.

Conclusion

The benefits of fume extraction systems at a workplace are not restricted to workers only; they also benefit the company. In addition to reducing risks of illnesses, workers in a safe and healthy atmosphere will also be more attentive and energized. Additionally, workers have a tendency to be more self-assured in their surroundings at work, which benefits the people around them.

Employers must understand that even while a fume extraction system may appear to be unnecessary, the consequences of not having one will cost more. Therefore, it is only wise to install a fume extractor and watch your workers progress, as does your company.