Once again I'm asked a question I find an interesting one about worker's compensation. In this instance it has to do with a worker from California that welded for a living, now is older and having medical problems. It's a difficult question to ask because at this point in the man's life I'm not sure any legal solution will be enough. Perhaps that is why this question needs to be considered; so that younger workers realize the dangers of breathing the fumes from your work as a welder.
Question: Can working with welding rods cause strokes, brain damage or other work related medical conditions?
Here is the specific question asked of me. Hello, I just this past weekend was talking with our younger son regarding his father's career of welding while repairing semi trucks for many years. He told me there is a connection between his work and his brain damage that has occurred over the past three to four years, some from strokes, other not quite sure why. Can you tell me if there is any connection? My husband welded with many different materials some of which were ferrous metals...he worked with CA for many years.
Thank you for any information that you can supply me with will be greatly appreciated.
Answer: Admittedly I'm not entirely familiar with working with welding rods, but like you I've done a wee bit of research on the hazards of working with welding rods.
There is a firm in Utah, Oregon and California that seems interested in this area and online they've posted some useful information about working with welding rod fumes. I do like their website page about welding fumes.
Welding Fumes and Other Hazards In the Life of a Welder, Brayton and Purcell Law Firm.
They point out several areas of health concerns for welders. Obviously I don't know these lawyers but free information is always welcome and a lawyer that at least acts like he knows something about the subject can be your best friend. The four things to consider are the welding fumes from manganese, hazardous coatings on the rods, other harmful metals in welding fumes along with heat, light and mechanical injuries. It seems medical conditions include Parkinson disease, manganism, which they say results in tremors, shaking and a loss of muscle control.
Then there is breathing iron oxide that also irritates the nasal passages, throat and lungs. It seems that what your husband worked on as a welder matters as to what they might later suffer. Two metals of concern are nickel and chromium which can cause cancer. (Safety and Health Fact Sheet No. 4, American Welding Society; Welding Fumes and Gases, Center to Protect Workers' Rights).
And then there are the hazardous coatings our friends at Brayton talk about. Metals a worker welds can be covered with plating and paint. Those can be hazardous; which brings us back to cadmium used to coat steel to prevent it from rusting. That cadmium sounds like nasty stuff and is reported to cause lung disease, emphysema, as well as kidney failure. And then there is the lead fumes that if breathed can cause lead poisoning, a condition noted to develop anemia and can cause damage to your nervous system, kidneys and the reproductive system. Here are three sources our friends at Brayton give us.
Did you husband work with asbestos? If so a welder breathing asbestos dust can develop several asbestos related diseases including mesothelioma, and asbestosis, which is a scarring of the lungs. If I were you I'd call these guys at Brayton, tell them I sent you and ask them if they can help you.