Respiratory Exposure to Toxic Gases and Metal Fumes Produced by Welding Processes and Pulmonary Function Tests

Younes Mehrifar, Zahra Zamanian, Hamideh Pirami


Background: Welding is a common industrial process and is harmful to welders' health.

Objective: To determine the effect of toxic gases and metal fumes produced during 3 welding processes on welders' incidence of respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in an Iranian shipbuilding industrial factory in 2018. Using the simple census method, 60 welders were selected as the exposed group. 45 staff members of the administrative unit were also recruited to be served as the control group. Welders' demographic data and respiratory complaints were collected employing a questionnaire. Fumes and gases produced were sampled from the welders' respiratory tract and analyzed by standard methods suggested by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Pulmonary function test was also performed for each participant.

Results: The prevalence of respiratory symptoms in all welders was significantly (p<0.05) higher than the control group. The mean FVC, FEV1 and FEV1/FVC measured in welders involved in all 3 processes were significantly lower than those recorded in the control group. The spirometry pattern in welders involved in flux cored arc welding and shielded metal arc welding was obstructive; that in those involved in gas metal arch welding was mixed (obstructive and restrictive pattern).

Conclusion: Exposure to welding fumes and gases was associated with pulmonary function deterioration. Welders involved in gas metal arch welding had a higher prevalence of pulmonary disorders compared with those involved in gas metal arch welding and flux cored arc welding.


Welding; Respiratory function tests; Spirometry; Signs and symptoms, respiratory

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2019.1540

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License