The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently updated its classifications for welding fumes and UV radiation that results from welding to Group 1 carcinogens. This means there is enough evidence to show welding fumes and UV radiation that results from welding operations cause cancer in humans.
Since 1989, the IARC classified UV radiation exposure and welding fumes in Group 2B which indicated they might “possibly” be carcinogenic to humans. The rationalization at the time was that there was inadequate evidence from research using animal experiments, and “limited evidence” from human experience.
IARC is a specialized cancer research agency that is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). The Agency regularly publishes Monographs that identify any environmental facts that could increase the risk of cancer in humans. They have evaluated more than 1,000 agents since 1971 and more than 400 of these have been identified as being either carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, or possibly carcinogenic to humans.
In 2012, an IARC Monograph classified UV radiation from welding as a Group 1 carcinogen. Additional evidence has been found in the more recent study.
Welding fumes were reclassified last year (2017) and the Monograph titled Welding, Molybdenum Trioxide, and Indium Tin Oxide was published in the most recent volume (Volume 118 of 2018). The full report, Carcinogenicity of welding, molybdenum trioxide, and indium tin oxide was published in The Lancet online in April 2017 following evaluation of new evidence by 17 scientists from 10 countries.
Substantial New Evidence Shows Welding Fumes to be Carcinogenic
The Lancet report states that an estimated 11 million “welders” and 110 million workers who are exposed to welding face the carcinogenic risks of welding fumes.
Different processes and metals welded, as well as the extent of exposure, impact the possible risks. The use of personal protection can help reduce risks.
Key findings in the new evidence include the risk factors posed by UV radiation which is generated by arc welding. Cancer types linked to UV radiation from welding include a rare cancer ocular melanoma that presents in a number of ocular disorders including cataracts. Lung and kidney cancer were also linked to welding fumes and welding-generated UV radiation.
Reliable Solutions to Avoid Welding Fumes
OSHA has guidelines to help welders and other workers who are exposed to welding fumes reduce exposure. These include the use of local exhaust ventilation systems that are designed to remove welding fumes and gases from the welder’s breathing zone.
Kemper America is a leading manufacturer of welding exhaust systems designed for industry. They are particularly appropriate for use in environments where welding and cutting operations are carried out.
In addition to a comprehensive range of highly effective filtration and extraction units, Kemper manufactures cutting-edge ventilation systems that provide reliable health protection for welders and other workers who are exposed to welding operations.
The CleanAirTower, which extracts polluted air and then recirculates purified air, is ideal for any environment where local exhaust systems are impractical or insufficient.
AirWatch controls extraction systems and room ventilation, ensuring that whatever filtration or extraction system is used, the quality of healthy air is maintained.
Contact Kemper America to make certain you and your employees will not be exposed to carcinogenic welding fumes and the effects of UV radiation caused by welding operations.