Categories: Reuters

More evidence welding fumes raise lung cancer risk

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) – Workers exposed to welding fumes are more likely to develop lung cancer than those not exposed to the fumes, and a new study suggests this holds true regardless of other risk factors like smoking or exposure to asbestos.

“Welding fumes have previously been classified as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ to people,” said Dr. Denitza Blagev, a researcher at the University of Utah and Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah.

“Although welders have been observed to experience higher lung cancer rates, there are many other factors – including smoking, asbestos and other carcinogen exposures – that were likely contributing to that increased risk,” Blagev, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

For the current analysis, researchers examined data from 45 previously published studies with a total of roughly 17 million participants. Overall, people who worked as welders or had exposure to welding fumes were 43 percent more likely to develop lung cancer.

When researchers looked only at data from studies that accounted for both smoking and asbestos exposure, welding was still associated with a 17 percent higher risk of lung cancer.

“It is now clear that the increased lung cancer risk in welders is not fully explained by these other factors,” Blagev said by email. “And with this review, welding fumes can be classified as ‘carcinogenic’ to humans.”

Worldwide, an estimated 110 million workers are exposed to welding fumes either as welders or as bystanders, Dr. Neela Guha of the California Environmental Protection Agency and colleagues note in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Welding fumes are generated when metals are heated above their melting point and then vaporize and condense into very fine solid particles in the air. The exact blend of chemicals in these vapors can depend on the type of metals involved, the welding process, and the occupational setting where the work is performed.

For example, nickel compounds and chromium are both known to cause lung cancer and are typically present in fumes when workers weld stainless steel, the study team writes. These metals are in much lower concentrations in other types of steel, which tend to produce fumes with more fine particulate matter – tiny solid and liquid bits of soot, dust and chemicals that can damage the lungs.

The analysis wasn’t designed to prove whether or how welding fumes might directly cause lung cancer.

One limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data to determine whether cancer risk varied for different welding processes such as flux-core arc welding, gas metal arc welding, and gas tungsten arc welding.

Researchers also didn’t know the duration of welders’ exposure to fumes associated with cancer.

“The process can take decades of exposure,” said Paul Cullinan, an occupational and environmental health researcher at Royal Brompton Hospital and Imperial College London in the UK.

Still, the results underscore the importance of workplace safety measures to reduce exposure to welding fumes, Cullinan, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“Workers and their employers need to continue to contain welding fume so that it isn’t inhaled in large quantities,” Cullinan said.

“The best way to do this is through the use of local ‘exhaust’ ventilation which carries the fume away from the worker’s breathing zone,” Cullinan said. “Second best is the use of protective masks.”

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2HusFtZ Occupational & Environmental Medicine, online May 14, 2019.

Reuters

View Comments

Recent Posts

India bans e-cigarettes in setback for Juul and Philip Morris

By Aditya Kalra and Aftab Ahmed NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India banned the production, import and sale of electronic cigarettes…

33 mins ago

Thailand culls 200 pigs amid heightened fears over African swine fever

By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Patpicha Tanakasempipat BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand has culled more than 200 pigs this week, authorities said…

48 mins ago

Roche bid to recycle Gazyva for lupus nephritis wins FDA breakthrough tag

By John Miller ZURICH (Reuters) - Roche has won the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's breakthrough therapy tag for its…

2 hours ago

Scientists release sterile mosquitoes in Burkina to fight malaria

By Thiam Ndiaga SOUROUKOUDINGA, Burkina Faso (Reuters) - Scientists in Burkina Faso have deployed a new weapon in the fight…

3 hours ago

South Korea confirms second case of deadly African swine fever, pledges vigilance

By Jane Chung SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea has confirmed a second case of African swine fever at a pig…

7 hours ago

New York state ban on flavored e-cigarettes given final approval

By Alex Dobuzinskis (Reuters) - New York became the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes on Tuesday after its Democratic…

10 hours ago