Welding has been a profession within America for decades, and while it remains an important part of the construction industry, often welders are exposed to very dangerous gases and chemicals. Using welding rods, which is a popular form of welding can produce maganese, which then increases the amount of toxicity inhaled by a welder.
Considered an truly American industry, welding has been around for centuries and society would be nothing without the work demonstrated by welders. However, welding has a dangerous and hidden side that occurs due to the gases emitted from welding rods. Welding is comprised mainly of applying heat to metals, usually with a filler metal, often known as a welding rod. However, these welding rods contain toxic levels of manganese, which is then inhaled by the welder.
Maganese is used in welding rods because it strengthens a metal as it is being fused by the welding process. When metals are heated and melted together, gas is produced. These welding gases are dangerous since welders are exposed to manganese when they breathe the fumes released in the air as rods are melted during welding operations. Manganese toxicity occurs quickly as it is absorbed into the blood stream and body tissue.
Individuals with the highest manganese exposure are often welders. Manganism is the condition in which high levels of toxicity exposure from manganese or manganese poisoning occurs. Often the manganism is described as the welder’s disease. Manganism and Parkinson’s disease have similar symptoms and side effects. Because of this, Parkinsonian syndrome is described as manganism.
Researchers found welders who had been exposed to manganese fumes in welding rods and materials were likely to develop side effects and symptoms of Parkinson’s 15 years earlier than an average individual not exposed to welding rod fumes. Both scientists and manufacturers of welding rods have known that there was a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease and asthma among welders and other individuals exposed to manganese and other dangerous elements contained in welding rods. The manufacturers, however, failed to adequately warn of these ill effects, and for years have failed to instruct employers of welders on how they can keep their workers safe.
Health Effects of Welding Rod Fume Exposure
Manganese poisoning is one of the most documented of all complications caused by environmental toxins. Still, manufacturers continue to use manganese in welding rods and other applications, choosing to put profits before safety. Manganism is also known as Parkinson’s Syndrome because its symptoms are very similar to Parkinson’s Disease, a debilitating and incurable disease affecting the central nervous system and the important production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s Syndrome include tremors affecting various parts of the upper body, reduction of facial expression, difficulty in locomotion, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty with speech. Exposure to welding fumes can cause disorders of the central nervous system and neurological problems.
Typical symptoms include tremors or shakiness, decreased movement or rigid muscles, loss of balance, joint and muscle pain, slow movement, sterility in men, short term memory problems, slow or slurred speech, hand stiffness and pain, and other neurological symptoms.
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