Industrial Health
Thorium-232 Exposure during Tungsten Inert Gas Arc Welding and Electrode Sharpening
Hiroyuki SAITONaomi HISANAGAYukiko OKADAShoji HIRAIHeihachiro ARITO
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Volume 41 (2003) Issue 3 Pages 273-278

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To assess the exposure of welders to thorium-232 (232Th) during tungsten inert gas arc (TIG) welding, airborne concentrations of 232Th in the breathing zone of the welder and background levels were measured. The radioactive concentrations were 1.11 × 10-2 Bq/m3 during TIG welding of aluminum (TIG/Al), 1.78 × 10-4 Bq/m3 during TIG welding of stainless steel (TIG/SS), and 1.93 × 10- 1 Bq/m3 during electrode sharpening, with 5.82 × 10-5 Bq/m3 background concentration. Although the annual intake of 232Th estimated using these values did not exceed the annual limit intake (ALI, 1.6 × 102 Bq), we recommend reducing 232Th exposure by substituting thoriated electrodes with a thorium-free electrodes, setting up local ventilation systems, and by using respiratory protective equipment. It is also necessary to inform workers that thoriated tungsten electrodes contain radioactive material.

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© National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
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