Evolution of Welding-Fume Aerosols with Time and Distance from the Source
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Evolution of Welding-Fume Aerosols with Time and Distance from the Source

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  • Alternative Title:
    Weld J
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    Gas metal arc welding fumes were generated from mild-steel plates and measured near the arc (30 cm), representing first-hand exposure of the welder, and farther away from the source (200 cm), representing second-hand exposure of adjacent workers. Measurements were taken during 1-min welding runs and at subsequent 5-min intervals after the welding process was stopped. Number size distributions were measured in real time. Particle mass distributions were measured using a micro-orifice uniform deposition impactor, and total mass concentrations were measured with polytetrafluorothylene filters. Membrane filters were used for collecting morphology samples for electron microscopy. Average mass concentrations measured near the arc were 45 mg/m(3) and 9 mg/m(3) at the farther distance. The discrepancy in concentrations at the two distances was attributed to the presence of spatter particles, which were observed only in the morphology samples near the source. As fumes aged over time, mass concentrations at the farther distance decreased by 31% (6.2 mg/m(3)) after 5 min and an additional 13% (5.4 mg/m(3)) after 10 min. Particle number and mass distributions during active welding were similar at both distances, indicating similar exposure patterns for welders and adjacent workers. Exceptions were recorded for particles smaller than 50 nm and larger than 3 μm, where concentrations were higher near the arc, indicating higher exposures of welders. These results were confirmed by microscopy analysis. As residence time increased, number concentrations decreased dramatically. In terms of particle number concentrations, second-hand exposures to welding fumes during active welding may be as high as first-hand exposures.
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