Overexposure to welding fume constituents, particularly manganese, is of concern in the construction industry due to the prevalence of welding and the scarcity of engineering controls.
An article written as part of an ongoing research effort by the Center to Protect Worker’s Rights (CPWR), presents a brief review of the literature examining neurological health risks associated with exposure to welding fume and, in particular, manganese. The article is an overview of welding in construction and the preliminary results of an evaluation of a portable local exhaust ventilation (LEV) unit used to reduce manganese exposure among construction welders. Removal of welding fume at the path to the worker is an engineering control that may be practiced in any industry where welding occurs.
Neurological health risks associated with exposure to welding fume and manganese poisoning or manganism, was identified years ago, primarily in miners, ore crushers, and ferroalloy workers. There is now considerable evidence that exposure to manganese at levels much lower than those observed historically can result in neurological impairment, and the term manganese-induced parkinsonism (MIP) appears more frequently in the literature.
The article Manganese and Welding Fume Exposure and Control in Construction by John D. Meeker,1 Pam Susi, and Michael R. Flynn can be extremely helpful in understanding the effects of exposure and a means of engineering control that can reduce exposure to welders.