Neurological Diseases Can Develop Due To Exposure With Welding Fumes

By Anne Dominguez , Dec 29, 2016 12:21 PM EST

A new research links exposure to welding fumes with neurological diseases. Washington University researchers revealed that welders who are usually exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes have risks of developing neurological problems similar to Parkinson's disease.

Manganese is an important component of common industrial processes like steelmaking and welding. Decades ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set standards to reduce the hazards of manganese due to several health risks. However, it looks like even these standards cannot eliminate the risk of manganism.

Manganism is a severe neurologic disorder which is similar to Parkinson's disease. Its symptoms include tremors, slowness, clumsiness, mood changes, and difficulty walking and speaking, cited Neuroscience News. In a study published in Neurology, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, researchers proved that the current allowable manganese level in welding can cause manganism.

Each participant then went to two clinical evaluations about a year apart to measure motor functions based on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. The doctors focused on symptoms of neurological diseases like muscle stiffness, slow movement and gait instability.

During the first evaluation, 15 percent of the workers were diagnosed with a score that puts them in the parkinsonism category - people with identifiable symptoms similar to Parkinson's. The results also suggest that those who are highly exposed to welding fumes had the biggest changes in scores than those with less manganese exposure.

"We found that chronic exposure to manganese-containing welding fumes is associated with progressive neurological symptoms such as slow movement and difficulty speaking," Brad A. Racette, MD, a senior author of the study said, according to a press release provided by Washington University. He added that more exposure to welding fumes quickens the progress of the symptoms.

Researchers suggest to reduce the allowable levels of manganese based on OSHA standards to ensure the safety of workers and reduce risks of neurological diseases. "This is not something we can ignore," Racette added. 


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