Welding fumes contain many elements including, fluorine, manganese, zinc, lead, arsenic, calcium, sulfur, chlorine and nickel. Additionally, many gases are released by the welding process including, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone. Welding rods, electrodes and welding wire contain manganese. Manganese, while present in nature, can be harmful to the body when excessive amounts of the element are ingested or inhaled. As a welder, or welder-helper, perform their tasks, they are subject to ingestion of manganese through inhalation.

Manganese is absorbed by the body and stored in tissue, including the brain tissue. Scientists have observed excessive levels of manganese effecting a certain part of the brain called the basil ganglia. The basil ganglia controls movements within the body. These movement disorders are defined as ďParkinson likeĒ. While all facets of this phenomena are not understood, it is becoming very clear that the conditions do exist.


While manganese is the 12th most common element and the 5th most common element found in the earthís crust, overexposure to manganese through inhalation may cause serious neurological damage, Since 1937, there have been many reports of manganese toxicity in workers.  Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have determined that overexposure to welding fumes can trigger the early onset of Parkinsonís disease. Other researchers have indicated that manganese and Parkinsonís disease have been linked for well over a century.  Manganese is a respiratory tract irritant, and can cause inflammation of the lungs. Welders and welder helpers are primarily exposed through the breathing of fumes produced by welding rods. All unprotected welders and helpers are exposed to these fumes. However, the incident of neurological effect is compounded by overexposure.  Constant exposure over a period of time will lead to more significant problems.


Manganism, which resembles Parkinsonís Disease, in itís effect upon the body, is also caused by overexposure to manganese. Welders, railroad workers, miners and steel workers all are subject to these neurological disorders if they have a work history which includes overexposure to welding fumes. Early onset of Parkinson disease has been seen in these groups as much as 15 years earlier than in control groups who have not been exposed to welding fumes.  Some of the effects on the body related to this overexposure are:

    - Tremors
    - Hand-eye coordination
    - Weakness
    - Lethargy
    - Clumsiness
    - Walking difficulties
    - Facial Expression changes
    - Speech Problems
    - Breathing Problems
    - Sexual Dysfunction

If you believe that you are suffering from the above symptoms and have considerable welding exposure in your working career, please feel free to click on the link to the left (or click here) for a free case evaluation.



American Welding Society


Washington University

Hazards and Risk Factors