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Attention welders! Be cautious of metal fumes.

Long-term inhalation of welding fumes can be harmful to your health. Many diseases stem from pollutants in our daily lives, and welders, often exposed to metal fumes during work, are at risk of developing these diseases.

Welding rods contain various heavy metals such as lead, manganese, nickel, zinc, cadmium, etc. When heated, these metals can vaporize and condense into fine particles called vaporized metal and metal oxide with a diameter smaller than 5 μm. These particles can directly penetrate the respiratory tract's defenses and reach the alveoli and bloodstream, posing dangers to the human body.

One of the most common diseases associated with metal fumes is metal fume fever, which typically occurs 4 to 8 hours after exposure. It presents symptoms similar to the flu, such as headache, fever, and coughing. Symptoms usually subside within 1 to 2 days after ceasing exposure.

Therefore, welders or workers involved in metal casting and cutting who frequently experience severe cold-like symptoms that quickly improve after taking sick leave and resting at home should be cautious about regular inhalation of metal fumes during work.

In addition to acute metal fume fever, chronic long-term exposure to metal fumes can also lead to anemia, brain damage, perforation of the nasal septum, pulmonary fibrosis, and various types of cancer. Hence, workers engaged in such high-risk operations must properly wear respiratory protective equipment and pay attention to the ventilation conditions in the workplace.

If workers suspect a link between their illness and metal fumes, they can visit the Occupational Disease Special Clinic at Taichung Hospital, Ministry of Health and Welfare, where healthcare professionals can assist with diagnosis and treatment.

Source: Taichung Hospital Health Education Information