3M Respiratory Manganese Hazard

Manganese: A Welding Fume that may be a Threat to Construction Workers, Welders

What Is Manganese?

Manganese is a grey-white metal resembling iron. Manganese is used extensively to produce a variety of important alloys and to desulfurize and deoxidize steel. Manganese is also in many welding rods and filler metals to promote hardness. Manganese oxide fume is one type of potentially dangerous welding fume that is formed when manganese metal is heated and reacts with oxygen in the air, which can occur during welding.

Why? Manganese is found in many welding processes in construction. When you weld, you generate so much heat that you actually vaporize the metal. As soon as the metal vapor leaves the heat of the arc, it recondenses back into an extremely small particle called a “fume”. These microscopic bits of hot metal are small enough and buoyant enough to be released from the welding arc and rise in a cloud of metal fume into the workplace air. These fumes can then be inhaled by the welder or other construction workers close to the source. The effects of welding fume, including manganese, are not typically immediately obvious, like heat that can burn your skin or radiation that can affect your eyes.

The visible part of the fume cloud is mainly particles of metal, metal oxides, and flux (if used). The science around welding fumes is continuously evolving and the exact level of risk and the different potential health effects from the fume will depend on what metals (and their concentrations) are involved in the work.

Manganese occupational exposure limits may have an effect on various industries and industrial processes. As a precaution, review Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for materials containing these substances in manufacturing processes. You can also learn more about manganese, the current permissible exposure limits, and steps you can take to protect workers by downloading our helpful eBook today and reaching out to our health and safety specialists for help selecting welding personal protective equipment (PPE).

Need Help Measuring Air Quality for Manganese?

If there are questions regarding the air quality, it may be a good idea to discuss the option of air sampling with an industrial hygienist to better determine the levels of contaminants within a given process.

How to Assess Your Location

Step 1 – Measure your exposure to manganese
Step 2 – Determine if you are above the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL)
Step 3 – Select a respirator with an assigned protection factor (APF) greater than the amount you are
over the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL)

Need Help Implementing Controls and Selecting PPE? We’re Here to Help.

If the air sampling results indicate exposure levels above the applicable occupational exposure limit, changes to the construction process, use of other engineering controls or PPE may be suitable choices to reduce employee exposures to acceptable levels. Our eBook provides suggested options for consideration for personal protection equipment (PPE), including respiratory protection for welders, may be suitable given your workers’ exposure. We also have resources to help with the proper fitting of your respiratory protection and how to help you manage your required respiratory protection program. Check it out.

For further questions regarding the selection of PPE for exposure to Manganese by welders on a construction site, we welcome you to contact our health and safety specialists. We also encourage you to visit our manganese resource page and download our helpful Manganese info sheet for quick reference about steps and solutions that can help protect your workers.

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