The Dangers of Asbestos in Welding
by Connor Burke
There are certain professions that have a higher risk of contracting mesothelioma or other asbestos related diseases through exposure at the workplace, one of these such professions in America is being a welder. The primary focus of a job like this is joining two metal parts this aspect requires a high amount of heat which leads to the possibility of damage to their main tool, the welding rod.
These rods use an asbestos coating to protect from the fire or heat destruction, which when attached to the rods doesn’t pose a threat however the material rarely stays attached to the tool. Therefore, this may protect the equipment, but it doesn’t protect the workers in fact it causes a heightened risk of asbestos related diseases. In the welding process, the rod is used for the liquefying of metal through heat, when this is used on a metal or steel object causes a disturbance to the make-up of asbestos and the flaky strands of asbestos that are released into the air which becomes extremely dangerous.
There has been reports on the effect this has had on the profession, a recent study that was published in the American journal of Industrial Medicine reported how of 211 welders studied, 39% of them had higher levels of asbestos particles in their lung tissues or fluid samples. Further to this researchers at the Georgetown and Duke universities found that 43 of the 1,445 diagnoses of the disease contracted through occupation were from steel and metal workers, this is the ninth highest figure which surpasses that of workers in asbestos manufacturing plants.
It will be interesting to see how the steelworks industry deals with this potential issue in their profession and protect the health of the workers.
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