Lung cancer and arc welding of steels

In 1992, Commission VIII (Health, Safety and Environment) of the International Institute of Welding (IIW) published a critical appraisal of the results of research on the excess risk of lung cancer in arc welders. Commission VIII agreed to an updated statement on the possible causes of this excess risk and made recommendations for preventive actions to assist in reducing the risk in 2003. This was provided to IIW Member Societies as a Commission VIII Document in 2004 and a published Consensus Statement in 2005. In the 2005 Consensus Statement the Commission remarked that the apparent link between lung cancer and welding as an occupation suggested that the work environment was likely to play a part in causation. The prime suspects identified from the evidence were fumes from welding processes, tobacco smoke and asbestos dust – acting alone or together. It was thought by some, that social factors other than occupation, but reflecting income may also play a part. The topic has been kept under review. The elevated risk of lung cancer among welders has persisted in the published medical literature. This 2010 report summarises, makes comments on and draws conclusions from evidence from the published scientific literature on the topic. Commission VIII ratifies its 2003 Statement, concludes from the review that the prime suspects remain the same and that the cause of the elevated risk has yet to be resolved. Everyone in the industries concerned is exhorted to take effective action to protect welders and those who work with them. Special emphasis is placed on the need to control exposure to welding fumes, at least to national standards, to prevent all exposure to asbestos dust and to encourage and assist welders to avoid exposing themselves and others to tobacco smoke.

Authors: Commission VIII Health, Safety and Environment of the IIW Fr. ;Full Source: Welding in the World 2011, 55(11/12), 12-20 (English) ;