Health effects of welding

Crit Rev Toxicol. 2003;33(1):61-103. doi: 10.1080/713611032.


Many of the epidemiology studies performed are difficult to compare because of differences in worker populations, industrial settings, welding techniques, duration of exposure, and other occupational exposures besides welding fumes. Some studies were conducted in carefully controlled work environments, others during actual workplace conditions, and some in laboratories. Epidemiology studies have shown that a large number of welders experience some type of respiratory illness. Respiratory effects seen in full-time welders have included bronchitis, airway irritation, lung function changes, and a possible increase in the incidence of lung cancer. Pulmonary infections are increased in terms of severity, duration, and frequency among welders. Although epidemiological studies have demonstrated an increase in pulmonary illness after exposure to welding fumes, little information of the causality, dose-response, and possible underlying mechanisms regarding the inhalation of welding fumes exists. Even less information is available about the neurological, reproductive, and dermal effects after welding fume exposure. Moreover, carcinogenicity and short-term and long-term toxicology studies of welding fumes in animals are lacing or incomplete. Therefore, an understanding of possible adverse health effects of exposure to welding fumes is essential to risk assessment and the development of prevention strategies and will impact a large population of workers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Confined Spaces
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Welding*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational