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Welding Fume Survey: Have Your Say

Wed, 08 February, 2023

There have been increased concerns about exposure to welding fume, since fume was reclassified as a Group 1 carcinogen by IARC in 2018.

Now the European Commission is considering including welding fume within the scope of the amended carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxic substances directive 2004/37/EC (CMRD), which aims to protect workers from exposure to these hazardous substances at work.

The Commission is also considering introducing a generic occupational exposure limit (OEL) for welding fume.

ECHA has carried out a scoping study for the Commission, which defines “welding+” fumes as fumes from the following activities:

  • Fusion welding (gas welding, arc welding (MIG, MAG, SMAW, FCAW, SAW, ESW, SW), arc welding (TIG, PAW), beam welding
  • Soldering (soft soldering, hard soldering)
  • Brazing (>450°C, laser beam brazing, brazing with an electric arc (MIG, TIG, plasma))
  • Thermal cutting or gouging
  • Thermal spraying
  • Flame straightening
  • Additive production processes

In this study, a number of different approaches for controlling exposure have been explored:

  1. Set a generic occupational exposure limit (OEL) for inhalable and respirable dust;
  2. Existing specific OELs could be complemented with a generic dust metric (an inhalable limit and a respirable limit) as described in point 1;
  3. Monitoring only those welding-related specific substances that are established carcinogens, i.e. to apply a BOEL for each of them under CMRD (narrow approach); Consider mandatory protective/control measures (e.g. enclosures, source extraction) on those welding techniques that lead to greater emissions of welding fumes, or to promote substitution to low-emission processes;
  4. Implement health surveillance programmes for welders under certain conditions. This could be done in addition to any other option.

The European Commission is consulting on the impact of adding welding fume to Annex I of the amended CMRD and setting a generic exposure limit for welding fume. The outcome of this consultation could have a significant impact on the welding industry, its professionals, and companies. It is therefore important that the industry provides an input into the decision-making process.

On the survey webpage is a questionnaire for companies to complete. On the webpage, there is a supporting letter from the European Commission, together with the privacy policy. The deadline for completing the questionnaire is Friday 3rd March 2023.

For more information please email: