You should always be careful with what you breath in during welding.
according to US dept of labor Zinc problems "occur from zinc-enriched paints and galvanized steel. Zinc exposure is the usual cause of metal fume fever." even if metal fume fever is all i get.....i dont want it
Welding "smoke" is a mixture of very fine particles (fumes) and gases. Many of the substances in welding smoke, such as chromium, nickel, arsenic, asbestos, manganese, silica, beryllium, cadmium, nitrogen oxides, phosgene, acrolein, fluorine compounds, carbon monoxide, cobalt, copper, lead, ozone, selenium, and zinc can be extremely toxic.
Generally, welding fumes and gases come from:
* the base material being welded or the filler material that is used;
* coatings and paints on the metal being welded, or coatings covering the electrode;
* shielding gases supplied from cylinders;
* chemical reactions which result by the action of ultraviolet light from the arc, and heat;
* process and consumables used;
* contaminants in the air, for example vapors from cleaners and degreasers.
The health effects of welding exposures are difficult to list, because the fumes may contain so many different substances that are known to be harmful (depending on the factors listed above). The individual components of welding smoke can affect just about any part of the body, including the lungs, heart, kidneys, and central nervous system.
Welders who smoke may be at greater risk of health impairment than welders who do not smoke, although all welders are at risk.
Exposure to welding smoke may have short-term and long-term health effects. These effects are described below:
Short-term (acute) health effects
Exposure to metal fumes (such as zinc, magnesium, copper, and copper oxide) can cause metal fume fever. Symptoms of metal fume fever may occur 4 to 12 hours after exposure, and include chills, thirst, fever, muscle ache, chest soreness, coughing, wheezing, fatigue, nausea, and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Welding smoke can also irritate the eyes, nose, chest, and respiratory tract, and cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, bronchitis, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) and pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs). Gastrointestinal effects, such as nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, cramps, and slow digestion, have also been associated with welding.
Some components of welding fume, for example cadmium, can be fatal in a short time. Gases given off by the welding process can also be extremely dangerous. For example, ultraviolet radiation given off by welding reacts with oxygen and nitrogen in the air to form ozone and nitrogen oxides. These gases are deadly at high doses, and can also cause irritation of the nose and throat and serious lung disease.
Ultraviolet rays given off by welding can react with chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents, such as trichloroethylene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, methylene chloride, and perchloroethylene, to form phosgene gas. Even a very small amount of phosgene may be deadly, although early symptoms of exposure -- dizziness, chills, and cough -- usually take 5 or 6 hours to appear. Arc welding should never be performed within 200 feet of degreasing equipment or solvents.
Long-term (chronic) health effects
Studies of welders, flame cutters, and burners have shown that welders have an increased risk of lung cancer, and possibly cancer of the larynx (voice box) and urinary tract.
These findings are not surprising in view of the large quantity of toxic substances in welding smoke, including cancer-causing agents such as cadmium, nickel, beryllium, chromium, and arsenic.
Welders may also experience a variety of chronic respiratory (lung) problems, including bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema, pneumoconiosis (refers to dust-related diseases), decreased lung capacity, silicosis (caused by silica exposure), and siderosis (a dust-related disease caused by iron oxide dust in the lungs).
Other health problems that appear to be related to welding include: heart disease, skin diseases, hearing loss, and chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), gastroduodenitis (inflammation of the stomach and small intestine), and ulcers of the stomach and small intestine. Welders exposed to heavy metals such as chromium and nickel have also experienced kidney damage.
Welding also poses reproductive risks to welders. A recent study found that welders, and especially welders who worked with stainless steel, had poorer sperm quality than men in other types of work. Several studies have shown an increase in either miscarriages or delayed conception among welders or their spouses. Possible causes include exposure to: (1) metals, such as aluminum, chromium, nickel, cadmium, iron, manganese, and copper, (2) gases, such as nitrous gases and ozone, (3) heat, and (4) ionizing radiation (used to check the welding seams).
Welders who perform welding or cutting on surfaces covered with asbestos insulation are at risk of asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases. Employees should be trained and provided with the proper equipment before welding near asbestos-containing material.