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A Field Study on the Respiratory Deposition of the Nano-Sized Fraction of Mild and Stainless Steel Welding Fume Metals
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Occup Environ Hyg
  • Description:
    A field study was conducted to estimate the amount of Cr, Mn, and Ni deposited in the respiratory system of 44 welders in two facilities. Each worker wore a nanoparticle respiratory deposition (NRD) sampler during gas metal arc welding (GMAW) of mild and stainless steel and flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) of mild steel. Several welders also wore side-by-side NRD samplers and closed-face filter cassettes for total particulate samples. The NRD sampler estimates the aerosol's nano-fraction deposited in the respiratory system. Mn concentrations for both welding processes ranged 2.8-199 μg/m3; Ni concentrations ranged 10-51 μg/m3; and Cr concentrations ranged 40-105 μg/m3. Cr(VI) concentrations ranged between 0.5-1.3 μg/m3. For the FCAW process the largest concentrations were reported for welders working in pairs. As a consequence this often resulted in workers being exposed to their own welding fumes and to those generated from the welding partner. Overall no correlation was found between air velocity and exposure (R2 = 0.002). The estimated percentage of the nano-fraction of Mn deposited in a mild-steel-welder's respiratory system ranged between 10 and 56%. For stainless steel welding, the NRD samplers collected 59% of the total Mn, 90% of the total Cr, and 64% of the total Ni. These results indicate that most of the Cr and more than half of the Ni and Mn in the fumes were in the fraction smaller than 300 nm.
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