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By Geoff Melton
Welding fume has been classified as a carcinogen with hexavalent chromium (Cr VI) of particular concern. In arc welding and cutting it is produced by the conversion of trivalent chromium to Cr (VI) in the arc. The limit values for exposure have been reviewed and lower limits have been proposed. Consequently, the European Commission has proposed new limits which will become law. More stringent limits are already in place in some countries, although in others such reduced limits do not apply or there are no limits in place.
There are therefore concerns in industry about meeting lower limits, and a better understanding is required of how Cr (VI) is produced during welding and what control measures may be required to satisfy new legislation. This report collates relevant information on workplace exposure and its measurement, occupational exposure limits (OELs), control measures, and research needs.
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