Welding Fumes May Contain Harmful Levels of Manganese

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Federal Judge’s Order Will Allow Welding Fume Claims to Proceed

CLEVELAND, OH — March 10, 2006 — In a written order, Federal District Court Judge Kathleen O’Malley stated that welding fumes may cause Parkinson’s disease or Parkinson–like movement disorders. The issue is for a jury to decide, she determined. Her order paves the way for thousands of consolidated cases against welding rod manufacturers to move forward. The combined cases are known as national welding fume multidistrict litigation or MDL. State welding rod lawsuits may also be affected.

“The evidence so far presented is sufficiently reliable to support the assertion that exposure to low–manganese welding fumes can cause, contribute to, or accelerate a movement disorder, including a parkinsonian syndrome that some doctors will diagnose as PD [Parkinson’s disease],” the order states. The order was issued in connection with the case of Charles Ruth, III v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al., a welding fume lawsuit that has already been settled (Case No. 1:04–CV–18912, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio).

The defendants had claimed that there was no link between the manganese in welding fumes and Parkinson–like symptoms and wished to have the plaintiff’s welding lawsuit dismissed as “frivolous.” Instead, Judge O’Malley confirmed the validity of bringing a suit against welding rod manufacturers for failure to warn welders about the serious dangers posed by exposure to welding fumes.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects movement and gait. The illness damages brain cells in the midbrain area called the substantia nigra, which produces dopamine, a chemical important in transmitting signals between parts of the brain. Dopamine loss is believed to be responsible for the movement problems caused by Parkinson’s disease, which include slow movements, body stiffness, poor balance and shaking or tremors.

How Can Welders Be Harmed By Manganese?

Welding rods give off fumes during the welding process. These fumes include manganese–containing compounds. Inhaling manganese can cause severe damage to the brain and nervous system. The symptoms of manganese poisoning are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease.

Welders suffer from a higher–than–average rate of Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson–like symptoms. One study found that among 20,000 welders, 10% had Parkinson’s disease, as compared with the rate of 1% among the general population (Report by Dr. Paul Nausieda, medical director of the Regional Parkinson Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee). A study of over 1,400 male welders from Alabama showed a rate of Parkinson’s disease symptoms that was seven to ten times greater than that shown by non–welders in a similar group (Neurology. 2005 Jan 25; 64(2): 230–5).

Your Welding Rod Case

Despite the harm that can be caused by welding fumes, welding rod manufacturers did not issue warnings about manganese in their products for many years. Even when they finally issued alerts, there is a question about whether these warnings were clearly visible and adequate.

Brayton Purcell is in the process of evaluating cases against welding rod manufacturers and distributors. If you have been injured by welding fumes, you may be able to receive compensation from these companies. Please contact us to learn more about your legal rights if you are a welder and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or a movement disorder. We will not charge you a fee to review your claim. We have been handling cases involving toxic substances for over 20 years and are proud of our record of helping workers.