question for welders

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Hi, I'm taking Art Metal and Welding: Intro to Multiple Process over this summer semester. We started out stick welding and I think I might be allergic to something. I have Art Metal for five hours and welding for five hours and Texas is really hot and I know I should be tired but I am experiencing some other problems. My text book only briefly discusses lead poisoning and metal fume fever. I seem to get exhausted quickly when welding. I take about 7 breaks in 5 hours and make sure to get plenty of water. After welding my face feels sun burnt, I don't think my hood lens is cracked cause I don't have any eye problems. I think something is mixing with my sweat. It itches for about two days. I have to put calgel on it. I'm getting bad cramps in my legs and arms and my right hand gets really sore when I'm welding. Even now it's hard for me to grip. When I get home my sinuses and throat are sore and the next day my chest hurts. I bought some respirators and used them the last time I welded. My face didn't itch around my mouth but my lungs hurt even more. The worst is like mega flu pain all over (worsened by the soreness from cramping)especially in my shoulders. I thought maybe I wasn't used to the strain (I am hammering copper for five hours before cutting and welding steel for five hours) but it seems to be getting worse. Is this all normal and self limiting or am I going to have a brain hemorrage in class tomorrow? btw I'M ONLY 28. This is a great site and I love seeing everyone's work especially since I'm new to Art Metal and don't yet know all that is possible. Maybe one of you have some experience with this stuff. I won't hold it against you if you call me a wussy. I just want to make sure I'm not committing to something that will make me miserable.

webminster's picture

There may be other things at

There may be other things at work which are giving you the fatigue and other problems. You should maybe look at your diet and/or your environment. However, it may help for you to read the following blog posts...

Metal Fumes 

How Bad are Welding Fumes 

Rich Waugh's picture

All I can say is STOP the

All I can say is STOP the activity right NOW. Get to a competent healthcare specialist and get a blood test done immediately. Your symptoms could be almost anything, but since they started up after you took up the welding, there may very well be a rlationship. Tell your healthcare person the whole background. Especially the part about the respirator causing increased lung issues.

Respirators cause increased stress on the cardio-pulmonary system, and you should not use one unless you have been certified to be capable of the increased stress levels. If you have asthma or other pulmonary issues, you can do damage to yourself wearing a respirator. There are other avenues to breathing clean air while welding, such as positive pressure (supplied air) hoods. They're hellaciously expensive, but what is your health worth to you? Lungs are difficult and expensive to replace, if a replacement can be found. Keep that in mind.

The fatigue and confusion could be symptoms of metal fume fever, particularly if you've been welding on galvanized steel. A friend of mine died of complications from metal fume fever a couple years ago. Not pretty, either. There are worse metals than zinc, too. Cadmium, for instance, can/will kill you. Most heavy metals are cumulative in nature; that is, they never leave your system. Some can be removed by chelation therapy, which is expensive and horribly uncomfortable, I'm told.

You could also have anything from TB to mononucleosis, or just plain fatigue, as your symptoms are not absolutely specific for any one ailment. You need testing done, ASAP. Those are serious symptoms, and NOT normal concommitants of welding in a safe environment using safe practices.

Only a competent healthcare professional can do the required tests and discover the etiology of your condition. Any delay in seeking such help is ridiculous and self-destructive. Continuing ANY activity with which you associate such symptoms is foolish and about as sennsible as playing Russian Roulette.

This is serious and needs immediate attention.

B.J. Severtson's picture

Bravo Rich

Well said. Go to a doctor . let us know. Brad

Sarkismet's picture

progress report

OK sorry it took a while to respond. I talked with my room/classmate and decided that the ventilation system in my booth had not been active while I was working. I didn't know that it was supposed to have suction. The next day I made sure it was functioning properly and placed it closer to my work. I arched out on the vent with my hood lens open (fortunately I didn't have an eyeball sunburn that night)but the ventilation was much much better and I didn't get so tired in the class I also made sure to take a thirty minute break in the middle of that class. I think that helped and I might be getting used to the strain. When I read on in the textbook it really stressed how you need to make yourself comfortable when you work or the fatigue can be pretty bad. I've been using a (non-commercial) detox blend tea this weekend (works well for me anyway). I think a combo of better ventilation and slowing down and making myself comfortable is just the trick. If I have any more respitory discomfort in the future I'll definitely go straight to the doctor. I quit smoking four years ago mostly because I didn't want to have chronic lung pain EVER. Hopefully we'll move on to mig or tig soon. I guess I'll have to get those damn vertical tee joints down first. Thanks for the information and concern. Maybe when I get back on I'll have some pictures of some brazing I plan to do in my art metal class.