Welding is the most widely used technology for joining metals and alloys. Welding processes produce fumes consisting of gaseous and aerosol by-products composed of metals, metal oxides and volatilized chemical species from the base metals, welding electrode, or flux material
The pulmonary health effects related to the exposure to welding fumes including chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, metal fume fever, and lung function changes. However, a growing concern for cardiovascular health effects has emerged, as several studies have reported an increased mortality risk of ischemic heart disease among welders.
The authors have undergone this study in order to investigate cardiorespiratory and inflammatory responses in male workers following exposure to welding fumes and airborne particles in actual workplace conditions.
They measured blood leukocytes and their differential counts, platelet count, hemoglobin, sensitive C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, E-selectin, IL-(interleukin)1[beta], IL-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and endothelin-1 in blood samples of twenty workers before and after their working day. They also studied peak expiratory flow (PEF), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and exhaled nitric oxide (NO). The authors assessed heart rate variability (HRV) by obtaining 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiograms.
The total blood leukocytes and neutrophils increased after the work shift, whereas IL-1[beta] and E-selectin decreased significantly.
There were no statistically significant changes in exhaled NO, FEV1, PEF or HRV.
After analysis the data, the authors concluded that the occupational exposure to welding fumes and particles caused a slight, acute inflammatory effect estimated based on the increased values of leukocytes and neutrophils in blood and a decrease in the interleukin 1[beta] and E-selectin values, but no changes in the pulmonary function (exhaled NO, FEV1, PEF) or HRV during the working day were observed.