Welding Fumes Contain Manganese and Other Toxic Metals

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Welders on SF–Oakland Bay Bridge Claim Exposure to Welding Fumes

OAKLAND, CA — September 1, 2006 — Welders working on the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge have filed a lawsuit against their employer, KFM Joint Venture, and against various welding rod manufacturers, alleging that they were injured from exposure to welding fumes. Welding rods can give off harmful fumes containing manganese and other toxic metals during the welding process.

The workers labored in hot, confined spaces up to 40 feet below water level, according to newspaper accounts (Oakland Tribune, August 24, 2006; Argus, August 24, 2006). They claim that they have respiratory problems, memory loss and nervous system disorders because they breathed in welding fumes. KFM received 17 citations for safety violations, but none for exposing its workers to welding fumes. The company refused to comment to newspapers about these citations or the pending litigation.

The Dangers of Manganese Fumes and Other Toxins

Welders are subject to manganism or manganese poisoning, a movement disorder caused by high levels of manganese, which is a major component of welding fumes. The symptoms of manganism are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease, a disorder marked by slow movements, body stiffness, poor balance, a fixed gaze and shaking or tremors. Welders also suffer from a higher–than–average rate of Parkinson’s disease, and often develop the condition at an earlier age than do other Parkinson’s disease victims.

Some welding rods are coated with asbestos. Inhaling asbestos dust causes asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that first attacks the lining of the lungs.

Welding fumes may also contain iron oxide, which irritates the throat and lungs. Working with stainless steel may produce welding fumes containing nickel and chromium. Exposure to nickel can aggravate asthma symptoms. Chromium can aggravate or cause sinus problems.

Welding Fumes and Your Legal Rights

Despite the harm that can be caused by welding fumes, welding rod manufacturers did not issue warnings about manganese or other metals 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 have been handling cases involving toxic substances for over 20 years and are proud of our record of helping workers.