The objective of this study was to characterize personal exposures to welding-related metals and gases for production welders and non-welders in a large manufacturing facility. Welding fume metals and irritant gases nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) were sampled for thirty-eight workers. Personal exposure air samples for welding fume metals were collected on 37 mm open face cassettes and nitrogen dioxide and ozone exposure samples were collected with diffusive passive samplers. Samples were analyzed for metals using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) and welding fume metal exposure concentrations were defined as the sum of welding-related metals mass per volume of air sampled. Welding fume metal exposures were highly variable among similar types of welding while NO2 and O3 exposure were less variable. Welding fume metal exposures were significantly higher 474 μg/m3 for welders than non-welders 60 μg/m3 (p=0.001). Welders were exposed to higher concentrations of NO2 and O3 than non-welders but the differences were not statistically significant. Welding fume metal exposure concentrations for welders performing gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) were higher than welders performing gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). Non-welders experienced exposures similar to GTAW welders despite a curtain wall barrier separating welding and non-welding work areas.
2011 by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health