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Fact or Fiction: Is Parkinson’s Disease A Potential Health Risk of Welding?


Because there is no concrete evidence to support either side, the answer depends on who you ask.

A lawsuit currently in federal court may change the future of welding. Here are the details:

Former welder Ernest G. Solis is suing four welding rod makers alleging that Parkinson’s-like movement has resulted from working on their welding rods. Apparently when welding rods are burned their fumes contain the chemical manganese, and high exposure to that chemical can lead to problems such as shaking, tremors, and difficulty walking. 

Why is one welder’s lawsuit such a big deal?

It’s not just one welder suing for this issue. This trial is only one out of 3,800 lawsuits, and the results of this case determine how the others are handled in court. This case has the potential to cost the welding industry millions of dollars and shape how welding fumes are dealt with in the future. 

Should I be worried?

There are a few factors that are at play here, such as the varying work conditions for different welders. Some welders work in more confined spaces and with higher levels of manganese, therefor they are at a higher exposure risk than welders that don’t have these work settings.

Welding, generally speaking, should be taken seriously at all times. When it comes to welding fumes, the American Welding Society (AWS) Jefferson’s Welding Encyclopedia mentions these precautionary measures:

  • Read, understand, and practice the safety instructions of the manufacturers handbook and stick to your employers safety standards.
  • Make sure to keep your head out of the fumes
  • Use plenty of ventilation and exhaust at the arc to keep fumes from your breathing area
  • Wear the proper face, eye, ear, and body protection

This post isn’t meant to scare you away from such a rewarding trade. Just think of this as a fair warning that welding – while fun – should be taken seriously.

For more information on this case read Can welding fumes cause Parkinson’s? at MSNBC.com.



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