AWS Standards - Fumes & Gases

Most welding, cutting, and metal fabrication processes produce fumes and gases that can be harmful to the health of welding machine operators.
Welding fumes are solid particles that develop from welding consumables, base metals, and any coatings on the base metal.
Shielding gases (commonly used in processes such as MIG and TIG welding) are used to protect the weld area from oxygen and water vapor, other gases develop during the welding process or are created by the effects of process radiation on the surrounding environment.

The structure and amount of these fumes and gases depend on the filler metal, base material, what welding process is being used, current level, arc length, and more.

Based on what material is being welded, health effects can range from eye, skin, and respiratory system irritation to serious compilations.
Health effects can happen immediately or at a later time.
Weld fumes can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and metal fume fever. Highly toxic materials can cause more serious health effects.
Overexposure to manganese affects the central nervous system which can result in impaired speech and/or movement.
Confined spaces without proper ventilation or an air filtration system may prevent an operator from breathing air causing asphyxiation.

AWS Welding Safety & Health Facts

Chromium and Nickel in Welding Fumes
Fire and Explosion Prevention
Hot Work in Confined Spaces
Laser Welding and Cutting Safety
Resistance Spot Welding
Cadmium Exposure from Welding and Allied Processes
Metal Fume Fever
Coated Steels: Welding and Cutting Safety Concerns
Welding Safety in Education and Schools
Ventilation for Welding and Cutting
Combustible Dust Hazards in the Welding and Cutting Environment

AWS Safety & Health Fact Sheets by Industry

Aerospace
Automotive
Chemical
Construction
Education
Fabricators
Mining
Pipeline
Railroad
Utilities