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industrial air purification welding fume extraction

The dangerous truth about welding fumes – and why you need a zero-tolerance approach

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Conventional welding fume extraction on its own is not enough to protect workers’ health. Why? Our air quality measurements show that welding fumes spread around the entire factory – with the result that some workers outside the welding shop are twice as much at risk as the welders themselves. We call this “pedestrianism”.

Welding fumes – the health risks

Many companies try to control welding fumes with spot extraction systems (LEV), cleaning and welding curtains. But all these conventional precautions offer only moderate protection from harmful fumes and the illnesses they cause.

Only a zero-tolerance approach will ensure sufficient protection for your entire workforce. This means collecting all welding fumes at their source, before they spread around the entire factory.

Fall short of this approach and your workers risk illnesses such as metal fume fever or even cancer.

As if this were not enough – did you know that standard LEV extraction systems pollute the environment when they blow the fumes outside?

welding fumes employee protection
dangers of welding fume

Why are welding fumes so dangerous?

The dangers from welding fumes are many and varied. These health risks (including lung disease and cancer) are mainly down to your limited options for controlling fumes, and the inefficiency of conventional welding fume extraction systems.

Getting rid of welding fume – a necessity, not a luxury

The smoke produced during welding is a mixture of harmful vapors and tiny dust particles. Welding fumes contain what are known as “fine” and “ultrafine” particles. Some of these are so small they are particularly dangerous to anyone breathing them in, because they can travel from your lungs into your bloodstream and other parts of the body.

Did you know it is nearly 10 times healthier to spend the day exposed to the dirt and exhaust fumes of a busy metro area like Brooklyn, than to be on the welding factory floor?

So what should you do about this? Check out our free guide for useful tips and solutions – you’re just a few clicks away.

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Welding produces over 20 times more harmful dust than you’ll find in the a busy metro area like Brooklyn – even if you’re using LEV.

fine dust concentration london city welding fumes in welding facility us
welding fume extraction with industrial air purification

How safe is LEV?

Typical LEV extraction systems on their own are often not powerful enough to remove all welding fumes. Sometimes workers do not switch them on if the job is very small. As a result, welding fumes can quickly spread through the entire factory, endangering your entire workforce.

The “pedestrian” phenomenon: double health hazard for people without PPE than for welders

We’ve crunched the numbers and found some shocking facts. Our air-quality measurements reveal that the concentration of welding fumes is actually higher farther away from where the welding takes place.

We found that unprotected staff working elsewhere in the factory, or walking from one area to another, can be exposed to twice as much harmful pollution as the welders themselves.

We call this phenomenon “pedestrianism”. It means, when you boil it down, some unprotected workers would be safer standing right next to a welder than working – or walking – nearby.

Welding fumes – the health facts

Hazardous gases

According to the OSHA, welding can cause hazardous fumes like carbon monoxide or helium to displace oxygen.

Dizziness and nausea

Exposure to welding fumes for even a short time can cause light-headedness, nausea, and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat.

Damage to the stomach and kidney

Workers exposed to welding fumes may experience stomach ulcers or kidney damage.

Nervous system impairment

Employees who sustain prolonged exposure to welding fumes can experience neurological damage and may experience symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.


According to OSHA, prolonged exposure to welding fumes can lead to a number of different cancers, including lung, larynx, and urinary tract cancer.

Metal fume fever

Metal fume fever is a serious illness that causes such painful symptoms as chills, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, and headaches.

Protect your business – from fines, legal action and more

Let’s not beat around the bush: bad air quality at work can have dire consequences for your business.

Poor air quality can lead to employee complaints, more absences and more frequent staff turnover. If this happens, your company’s reputation is going to suffer too.

Beyond this, OSHA has strict guidelines when it comes to employee exposure to welding hazards. If inspections show your business is not complying with tough regulations designed to protect workers, OSHA could very well take further action that could threaten the livelihood of your business.

This is in addition to possible claims from staff who are able to show their working environment falls short of required standards and has caused them health problems.

In other words, you need to demonstrate a zero-tolerance approach to welding fume, and not just doing the bare minimum. Read our free guide to understanding the dangers of welding fume and the best ways to deal with it.

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What the welders say – three businesses using Zehnder air cleaners to keep pollution under control

“Since the installation I have noticed a considerable improvement in the visual quality of the air, over all areas of the factory. And according to a recent report, annual readings of our indoor air quality is approximately 60 % cleaner than the pre-installation readings.”

Kate Burgess, Aerofab Fabrications Ltd

"The results of the dust measurements were a clear warning signal that we need to protect not only our facilities but especially our employees from the very high levels of air pollution. Shortly after installing the air purification systems, the air was much clearer and our employees gave us very positive feedback. Overall, we have much less dust on machines and equipment.”

Frank Schneider, Fischer Rohrtechnik GmbH

“The Zehnder team provides a very efficient and  responsive service. Our Account Manager talked us through our service and the results we gained, which we can then relay to the workforce to explain the benefits of the Zehnder system. All in all, a very effective service and a very good system that works. It’s a pleasure to work with Zehnder.”

Nick Dewa, SC4 UK Ltd

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The verdict? Only a comprehensive air cleaning system will give you proper protection

To ensure genuine protection for your workers, LEV fume extraction is often not enough. But LEV combined with an industrial air purification system puts you in a different league.

This combination is the mark of zero tolerance. It will thoroughly deal with welding fumes where they are produced and before they become a health risk not only to welders, but to other workers too.

And how do you do this? It’s simple really. We recommend our air purifiers because:

  • they are intelligent and able to adapt to changes in air quality at your factory
  • they can be customized to suit exactly what your business needs.

Your workers will repay you with satisfaction and loyalty. And your business can only get better. What’s not to love about that?

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The dangerous truth about welding fumes – and why you need a zero-tolerance approach
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