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Study on Welding in Confined Spaces Reports Manganese Exposure Effects

March 30 2007
Safety and Health

With jobsite safety and health at the top of any contractor’s priorities, TAUC consistently looks to keep it’s membership up-to-date on the issues that matter. In a study published in the March issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it was found that adverse neuropsychological, pulmonary, and neurological health effects were among the risks of welding in a confined space.

The research done on 43 welders at the new span of the San Francisco ? Oakland Bay Bridge found that the workers had problems with working memory, immediate memory, concentration and verbal learning. A workers ability to identify smells was also impaired as was their lung capacity.

The article points out that while mining, ore-processing and ferroalloy have documented the health effects of high exposure to manganese, the lower exposure that welders face is far less understood. After being tested for 16.5 months at the bridge, the following symptoms were reported by the welders who were studied: tremors (42%); numbness (60%); excessive fatigue (65%); sleep disturbance (79%); sexual dysfunction (58%); hallucinations (19%); depression (54%); and anxiety (40%). The average age of the welders was 43.8 years and had an average of 12.6 years of education.

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