Source Capture vs. Ambient: Two Important Air Filtration Methods

Welding is a process where there are many different methods, such as shielded metal arc, gas metal arc and submerged arc. Since the practice involves the use of sophisticated tools and equipment, workplaces have to ensure their employees are protected at all times. Welders often shield themselves by wearing protective clothing, in addition to a goggles and welding helmets. However, workplaces must also ensure their air filtration systems are properly working because the fumes from welding can become quite hazardous. Luckily, two filtration methods exist: source capture and ambient. Each filtration system has unique traits that workplaces need to be aware of.

benefits of source capture and ambient to welders

Dangers of Welding

Even though workers can protect themselves while welding, the process still results in other side effects that can be potentially dangerous to an individual’s health. To ensure welders are protected while working, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed standards that building management must abide by.

For example, welding standards for construction industries are quite thorough. Per section 1926.353(c)(1) of OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, any welders working in an enclosed space must do so only if the local ventilation system meets OSHA standards. One of the agency’s rules states that oxygen must not be used for ventilation reasons. If, sufficient ventilation is not possible, employees must be outfitted with air line respirators.

Employers must ensure workers are protected because welding can lead to severe illnesses for workers. Most notable is metal fume fever, which is caused by exposure to fumes. This illness leads to flu-like symptoms, and individuals will typically experience periods of fatigue, nausea, headaches, chills, high fever, chest pain and more. According to Weld Guru, a metallic or sweet taste can also develop in the mouth, and this will distort the taste of food and liquids.

More severe metal fume fever symptoms may include vomiting, skin rash and convulsions. But for most individuals who contract the illness, their symptoms will go away within 24 to 48 hours. Individuals will feel completely healthy after four days.

Unfortunately, the exact cause of metal fume fever is not known, but there is reason to believe that workers often breathing metal oxide fumes could be a contributing factor. This may then lead to an immune reaction that causes modified proteins in the lung to act as allergens.

Metal Guru also stated zinc, magnesium and copper tend to result in the dangerous fumes workers may breath.

Source-Capture Ventilation

The best way to make sure workers do not fall ill from metal fume fever is to have ventilation systems installed throughout the area where welding takes place.

“Source capture through fume extraction should be utilized in order to remove fumes.”

As such, source capture through fume extraction should be utilized in order to remove fumes created from welding. With source capture, harmful and dangerous particulates are minimized before they can cause damage to a worker’s respiratory system.

Four types of source capture ventilation work best to protect welders:

  • Fume arm systems
  • Tip extraction
  • Overhead hood
  • Downdraft tables

A building’s manager will have to decide which type of source capture system works best throughout a building’s setup. For example, overhead hoods are suitable for large workspaces where smoke and fumes have to be contained. These systems then isolate the welding fumes to make for easier breathing. As a comparison, downdraft tables are built to draw fumes down and away from the worker as he or she breathes.

There are some downsides to source capture systems, however. In particular, managers may find it difficult to install these types of ventilation systems due to existing building infrastructure that might not be able to be reconfigured. In other instances, individual welders may prefer to have freely movable hoods that can provide a sufficient airflow and remove any fumes.

Ambient Air Filtration

Ambient air filtration systems can be installed in overhead spaces to draw fumes upward. From there, the air can be circulated to create an airflow that will maximize the benefits of clean air.

While there is a clear distinction between ambient and source capture air ventilation systems, leadership and building management should not think of one as a replacement for the other. Instead, source capture and ambient systems should be used together for maximum benefits.

With metal fume fever affecting welders across the country, managers have to ensure they are doing everything possible to protect workers. This involves abiding by OSHA and other compliance regulations, in addition to installing the necessary air ventilation systems.

Together, ambient and source capture systems will help alleviate the dangers welders face.

Contact Air Impurities Removal Systems for more information and ways to protect welders from metal fume fever. Employers will find numerous options to choose from, including mobile and bench-top fume extractors and downdraft tables.

Indoor Air Quality Risks for Oil Refinery Welders

Refineries should ensure their staff have proper ventilation to protect against toxic fumes

Petroleum companies should ensure their staff have proper ventilation to protect against toxic fumes.

When companies do not protect the respiratory health of their workers, they could face severe penalties.

An oil refinery was recently fined by the Wyoming Occupational Safety Health Administration for multiple workplace safety violations, including for failure to protect workers from hazardous fumes, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. The 22 safety violations could cause the company to be fined over $700,000 – the biggest fine ever issued in Wyoming. During an inspection, it was discovered the company did not implement proper safety controls to protect workers and employees were found to not have emergency response training.

“It is pretty unusual,” said John Ysebaert, an administrator with Wyoming OSHA. “We have several other refineries in the state and have not had this pattern of issues.”

Some penalties were due to reports of 20 refinery workers becoming ill after exposure to toxic fumes. These chemical hazards included hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide.

“Certainly when you have 20 people overcome by fumes, they did not have an effective process or procedure,” Ysebaert said.

In addition to these chemical fumes, petroleum refineries can generate different air contaminants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Combat welding fume exposure for workers in refineries

Oil and gas industry workers who are commonly exposed to toxic gases include metalworking staff. Employees performing hot work, as described by OSHA, through welding, cutting or brazing are at risk for a variety of injuries and illnesses – from skin injuries from sparks or fires to exposure to welding fumes.

As another major hazard, welding fumes can be considered toxic. To limit the health and safety risks associated with toxic gases, or what OSHA considers a “special hazard,” the agency recommends that employers make sure there is enough ventilation from welding and cutting fumes. Confined spaces especially need to have proper ventilation as toxic gases can accumulate.

For controlling toxic gas exposure, OSHA suggests employers implement mechanical ventilation systems for welding fume extraction if employees are working in confined areas, such as fume extraction equipment.

Workers at fined oil refineries were exposed to hydrogen sulfide, which is considered a flammable gas. Welding employees who work around hydrogen sulfide could become burned if a flash fire or explosion occurred. Additional personnel should be stationed in order to guard against this risk or prevent injury to welding workers should materials combust.

Industry regulation and worker respiratory safety news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

Protecting Welders From Lead Exposure Starts With Fume Extraction

Welding fumes could produce lead exposure, which could cause harmful health effects.

Welders are vulnerable to a variety of hazardous chemicals while on the job, such as arsenic and hexavalent chromium. One of the most common chemicals is lead, which could have debilitating health effects, if employers do not take the necessary precautions to protect their workers’ health.

Workers are at risk for coming into contact with lead oxide fumes if they are performing activities related to either welding or cutting lead-bearing alloys or metals that may be coated in lead-based paint, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). Employers who are negligent about safeguarding their workers from lead exposure are likely to be fined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In 2002, a New York-based manufacturer was fined over $100,000 by OSHA for serious violations, EHS Today reported. The manufacturer of solder wire from lead-based alloys failed to protect its workers from high levels of lead exposure as well as did not provide staff with protective clothing and equipment while they were in contact with hazardous chemicals.

OSHA said reducing lead exposure is one of the top priorities for the agency as this type of exposure is one of the most common reported in industries and workplaces. Lead overexposure can cause temporary and chronic health effects. If workers inhale fumes during welding, it could cause lead poisoning. Employees exhibiting symptoms of this condition could report loss of appetite, nausea or abdominal cramps. Long term impact of lead exposure might present itself as damage to the brain, central nervous system and other organ systems.

Prevention is key to reduce lead exposure

Installing mobile welding fume extraction systems is an effective control method to prevent employees from inhaling hazardous substances. These tools for fume extraction can remove harmful lead-based gases before they are mixed in with the air around employees’ work spaces.

In taking further steps to lower the amount of lead employees come into contact with during welding, employers could consider substituting in materials that are less harmful.

“To further reduce welding fumes in work areas, employers may want to consider using less-hazardous materials such as low-fume welding rods and alternative welding methods such as stick welding, which creates less fumes than flux core welding,” according to a document by ASSE.

Employers may also want to strip welding or cutting materials of any paint, solvents or other residue that could result in giving off hazardous fumes.

Metalworking news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

Welders’ Occupational Risks Include Chemical Exposure

Welders’ Occupational Risks Include Chemical Exposure 1

Welding has forever posed health and safety risks to laborers. But only in modern times have chemical vapors come to light as a dangerous threat – one that can prove deadly if not eliminated. Today, many industry employers are aware of the danger chemical exposure presents and use fume extraction as a method of removing harmful fumes from a worker’s breathing space.

For total worker protection, both physical and environmental safeguards need to be in place. Consider adopting the following measures:

Take ergonomics into account

While workers are regularly reminded to wear durable and flame-resistant clothing, which can include denim pants and welding jackets, they may not be aware of the significance of ergonomics as a factor in workplace safety, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News reported. Defined as fitting a job to a person, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, e​rgonomics can help keep workers safe by making sure their safety gear and equipment is well-suited for each individual worker. This includes fitting masks and protective clothing so they work properly.

Wear versatile protective equipment

Welding workers are exposed to various hazards from many sources. These can include sparks, radiation and fumes and gases, according to the American Welding Society. Since the American Welding Society recommends workers wear personal protective equipment to safeguard against these hazards, employers should make sure this equipment can protect against multiple hazards.

“Wear a fire-resistant welder’s cap or other head covering under your helmet,” the American Welding Society said. “It will protect your head and hair from flying sparks, spatter, burns and radiation.”

Avoid dirty clothing that can pose a danger to workers

Workers are also advised to ensure their protective equipment and clothing are clean as dirty and oil splattered clothing could open them to other risks, such as fire hazards.

“Keep clothing clean (free of oil, grease, or solvents which may catch fire and burn easily),” the American Welding Society stated. “Keep it in good repair (no holes, tears, or frayed edges). Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for their use, care, and maintenance.”

Employ air purification solutions

OSHA recommends companies utilize local exhaust ventilation and general mechanical ventilation systems to protect workers from the hazardous fumes generated during welding work. Engineering controls like welding fume extraction equipment should be used to remove dangerous fumes before they reach workers’ breathing space. 

Industrial and manufacturing news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

For a Healthy Indoor Air Quality Source Capture Ventilation is Key

For a Healthy Indoor Air Quality Source Capture Ventilation is Key 1

What do woodworkers, artists, dentists, nail technicians, and welders all have in common? Yes, they work with their hands. But that is not all. Those who work in these professions all produce indoor air emissions by just going about their daily duties.

Artists who paint or make pottery may breathe in fumes or particulate matter, as well as many dentists when they use laughing gas or drill teeth to fill cavities. Woodworkers can inhale particle dust; nail techs vapors from glues and polishes. Welders heat up the metal that can emit noxious fumes into the air. The list of jobs, professions, and tasks performed that can create indoor air quality problems goes on and on.

As most business owners know, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to comply with standards created under it. It requires that employers be reasonably aware of the possible sources of poor air quality and that they should have the resources necessary to recognize and control potential hazards.

Most business owners take seriously this responsibility for creating a safe and healthy workplace. They uphold OSHA compliance by keeping their factories, studios, and manufacturing floors clean by maintaining their machines and equipment. But to truly protect their employees from the risk of illness and other hazards, the indoor air quality must be free of pollutants or all their other efforts will fall short of real protection.

The bottom line? Airborne pollutants create a poor IAQ. Experts agree that in most cases, the most effective way to keep the air clean and healthy is to eliminate pollution at the source. This proven method of indoor air cleaning is known as source capture.

At its most basic, source capture may be defined as the process of removing gas, smoke, fumes, and particles where emissions originate.

This process prevents pollutants from dispersing into the surrounding air, the effects of which can cause worker illness, risk of fire and explosion, and an unclean indoor environment.

The top three benefits to source capture are:

Improved worker health

Enhanced productivity & worker retention

Reduced operating costs

Source capture ventilation equipment is less expensive to purchase, run, and maintain than large area (ambient) cleaning methods.

Reduced energy costs

Source capture ventilation products are smaller, thus using less energy than ambient systems.

There are several types of source control products used in the industry. The most common include:

  • Extraction Arm systems
  • Bench-Top and Wall Mount Fume Extractors
  • Mobile Fume Extractors
  • Downdraft Tables

These systems isolate contaminants and remove them from a worker’s breathing space.  

In addition to the professions and applications mentioned at the outset of this article, any trade or occupation that involves cutting, mixing, or burning, or deals with chemicals or substances that emit fumes, mists, or vapors, are also effectively handled by source capture ventilation systems.

The type of source capture ventilation product that is right for a given job and task will depend on a variety of factors including the application and the building infrastructure. At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc. we provide source capture air cleaning systems for our customers. We have numerous options to choose from, such as our SP-800 mobile fume extractor, our S-981-2B bench-top fume extractor, and our model SCDD-3450 downdraft table. For more information, contact us for your free estimate with one of our clean air experts.