It has become common knowledge that stainless steel is an incredibly versatile and durable material – which is why it is so heavily used across a variety of industries. However, the process of welding stainless steel comes with an unwanted side-effect – the release of toxic substances.
In the US alone, there were over 9 million welding jobs in 2018, and the annual amount of welding fumes released totaled an estimated 6 million tons. So, what toxic substances are released when welding stainless steel – and what health risks are associated with them?
Continue reading below to find out!
What Toxic Substance Is Released When Welding Stainless Steel?Welding is a process of joining two metal surfaces together. Welding stainless steel requires an electric current to produce melts in the metal and fuse it to the joining surface.
Although welding stainless steel can be an incredibly beneficial process, it can also produce a toxic substance that must be carefully managed.
What Toxic Substance Is Produced?
The process of welding stainless steel produces a potent gas known as hexavalent chromium. This gas is extremely dangerous for human health and can enter the body by inhalation or skin contact. It can also be spread in the environment, so it’s important to take precautions when welding stainless steel.
What Are The Health Risks Of Hexavalent Chromium?Hexavalent chromium is extremely toxic to humans and can cause a number of health problems.
The most common health risks associated with hexavalent chromium exposure include:
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation
- Respiratory illness
How Can You Minimize Exposure?
The best way to avoid exposure to hexavalent chromium is to ensure that all safety precautions are taken when welding stainless steel. This includes using protective equipment, such as respirators and gloves, to prevent exposure. In addition, it’s important to ensure that the work area is well-ventilated, to disperse the gas and reduce the risk of inhalation.