Protecting the Rights of Welders
Over 500,000 strong, welders labor at construction sites, shipyards, bridges, mines, factories, and auto plants. They are the backbone of our country. Sadly, however, many will become ill from harmful welding fumes, chemicals and metals.
We created this web site to help welders and their families find out more about these dangers. It describes the contents of welding fumes and discusses diseases that are common among welders. We also provide a list of medical centers and legal information. Below is a brief overview of the problems facing welders.
Welding Fumes Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
Welding rods, especially steel ones, can give off fumes that contain the metal manganese. Breathing in this metal damages your nervous system. Welders suffer from a higher–than–average rate of Parkinson’s disease, a disorder that affects walking and other movements. Parkinson’s disease is a very serious illness, above and beyond the normal aging process. Welders often develop the condition at an earlier age than do other Parkinson’s disease victims.
Many welders also suffer from a movement disorder labeled manganism or manganese poisoning. It presents many symptoms that are similar to Parkinson’s disease. Because of the overlap between the two conditions, some researchers call manganism a form of “Parkinsonism” or “Parkinsonian Syndrome.”
Know When to See Your Doctor About Manganese Exposure from Welding Fumes
When should you be concerned about exposure to manganese? It’s time to see your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed below, and you have worked around welding fumes:
- tremors or shaking
- balance problems
- slowed movement (doctors call this “bradykinesia”)
- stiffness and difficulty moving
- problems in moving your face muscles (a “mask–like” face)
Some patients also experience memory loss and slurred speech. The list of symptoms may overlap with other diseases, so it is important to give your doctor a good description of your physical problems and your work, especially your contact with welding fumes.