Welding fumes may cause brain damage

images/articles/headquarters/departments/safety-and-health/safety-and-health-articles/criswell et al welder neurology 2011.pdfSt. Paul, MN – Workers exposed to welding fumes may be at risk for damage in an area of the brain associated with Parkinson’s disease, indicates research from the American Academy of Neurology.

Welding fumes contain manganese, a chemical element that has been linked to neurologic problems such as Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, according to a press release from AAN. Researchers studied 20 welders with no symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, 20 non-welders with Parkinson’s and 20 non-welders without Parkinson’s.

The average manganese levels among welders were 2 times the upper limits of normal levels, the release said. They had an average 11.7 percent reduction in dopamine markers. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that is decreased in certain parts of the brain in people with Parkinson’s. Also, motor skill tests showed mild movement difficulties in the welders.

The research was published online April 6 in the Journal Neurology “Fuming over Parkinson disease: Are welders at risk? by W.R. Wayne Martin.  A copy of the article may be purchased for a $20.00 fee at Neurology.

New Update April 27
Link to a new study by Dr. Racette’s group on Welders and Manganese Eexposure 2011