WELDING FUMES AND CANCER: GROWING CONCERN

A growing cohort of welders is facing the consequences of inhaling fumes that have become increasingly linked to cancer over decades. In 2017, all welding fumes were classified as Group 1 carcinogens, known to cause cancer. A peer-reviewed study by the World Health Organisation in 2022 estimated that workers exposed to welding fumes had a 48 percent higher likelihood of developing lung cancer and a 27 percent higher likelihood of dying from it.

Similar to asbestos or silica dust, welding fumes can trigger lung inflammation and the replacement of lung cells, potentially leading to the development of cancerous cells. Eddie Lorenzi, a welder, passed away on July 16, 2021, at Royal Melbourne Hospital, four months after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. WorkSafe Victoria determined that his exposure to welding fumes had increased his cancer risk. The Lorenzi family received the first of two workers' compensation claims. This follows the case of ex-welder Anh Tran, who won workers' compensation in 2014 after having his right lung surgically removed.

To be harmed by welding fumes, inhalation is necessary. Possible ways to control this risk include reducing the concentration of fumes in the air and protecting individuals from inhaling them.

In line with the Netherlands and Germany, where exposure limits are set at 1.25 mg and 1 mg respectively, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) is advocating for stricter exposure limits to welding fumes. According to Dave Henry, the AMWU's national work health and safety coordinator, "Under the current standard, welders are legally allowed to breathe in 11 milligrams of a known carcinogen [each year]. It’s mind-boggling."

Learn more about the AMWUs campaign here.

Share Tweet

RELATED

ASK RENATA
There has been a mould problem at my work for awhile now and no one is getting serious about it. I am at lost with what to do. Our shower and locker...
Read More
ANIMATED RECREATION: EXCLUSION ZONE WARNING
Resources Safety and Health Queensland's chief inspector has reminded employers conducting crane operations that they must establish and enforce exclusion zones around the task, ensuring workers are not in danger if a...
Read More
WORKSAFE 'ANALYTICS HUB' $31 MILLION OVER BUDGET
Fresh IT project cost blowouts are expected to top $100 million across state government agencies, including WorkSafe.
Read More