Does Welding Cause Cancer? | How to protect yourself while welding

Does Welding Cause Cancer

Have you ever wanted to know if welding cause cancer? Well, welding is an amazing skill to have. It is creative, constructive, and takes a keen eye. Along with all the great characteristics that come along with welding, like making a great living and getting to work with some fun tools, there are also risks.

Welding is one of the trades that takes the most safety precautions. Yes, there are other trades that are more dangerous and plenty that aren’t, but welding has some specific risks that must be paid close attention to so that you may protect yourself.

Does welding cause cancer? Yes, it can. It does not have to cause cancer, as long as you protect yourself properly. Welding produces cancer-causing fumes that can enter into the lungs and other parts of the body.

Welding also generates UV rays from the light of the arc. Without the proper skin protection, the rays can cause melanoma. The proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is not optional; it is a must.

There are inherent risks that come along with welding. Always protect yourself, every time. And with every piece of proper equipment for protection, too.

By having a meticulous attitude and paying close attention to detail, you can protect yourself from these risks, especially as a welder who does the job for a living for forty or more hours a week.

The more you are exposed to the elements produced by the trade, the higher the risk can be.

Protecting Yourself While Welding

As we’ve mentioned, there are specific pieces of PPE that are going to set you up for success in the long run. The list below mentions every piece of protection that you will want to use as a welder. Yes, you will be covered from head to toe. Yes, it will be hot.

Yes, you are going to be safe. A lot of welders out there love the job; they love the work; they love being able to use their skill.

Maintaining a certain level of enjoyment in your work always helps to avoid focusing on the parts of the job that may be difficult.

When you are welding, use these items to protect yourself every time.

Before you continue reading, here is an article we wrote about the personal protective equipment for welders – PPE.

Welding Bandana

Protect your hair and keep sweat out of your eyes with the proper bandana. You’re working with high levels of heat, sparks, flames, and so on. You will sweat, so keep the sweat out of your eyes so you can see.

This will also protect your hair from sparks or catching on fire. It’s just what you’ll need for that head.

Safety Glasses

This one is a no-brainer, but plenty of people try to skate by without them. Always wear them. Those are your eyes, the one thing that can see what you’re doing. Do everything to protect them, so safety glasses are required.

Welding Jacket

This is a thick, fire-resistant jacket, specially made for welding. It will protect your upper body from all the sparks, heat, flames; you name it. Cotton, nylon, and leather are three of the most common fabrics used in making welding jackets.

Welding Gloves

Make sure your hands are protected with the right kind of gloves. By using a pair of welding gloves made from a thick fabric, you will keep those hands in top shape to get the job done. Otherwise, your hands would be toast.

Welding Helmet

Another no-brainer. Use a welding helmet always. This is an added layer of protection for your entire head, and it keeps out all the sparks, flames, and heat.

Find yourself a nice helmet with a great viewing window, so you never have to worry about being able to see what you’re doing.

Welding Apron

Yes, you read that right. You are going to be wearing an apron while you weld. But a special apron made for welders, made of thick material to further protect your front side while you’re getting the job done and so your pants don’t catch on fire.

Denim Pants/Leather Shoes

Find yourself some good jeans for welding. There are some great options that are a little thicker for added protection. And wear the right shoes. Always.

Leather, steel-toed boots are your best option. You’re working with metal, sometimes bigger pieces with a lot of weight. Protect your feet in case something falls.

This is the proper formula to keep yourself safe. After putting everything on every day for however long you’ve been a welder, it can be easy for the thoughts to creep in that you can leave out certain pieces of your PPE that you personally deem “not as important.” Don’t do that.

Every one of these pieces of attire is equally important. So, put them all on and get welding!

Welding and Cancer

So, the big question is how welding and cancer are related. There are a lot of different elements throughout the world that have been deemed “cancer-causing” without argument.

Cigarettes, tanning beds, alcohol, processed meat, you get it. Welding is on the list. As mentioned, the fumes and the UV rays from your arc are both dangerous.

That is why protection is so important. Without taking the necessary precautions, it can happen to any welder.

Welding and Lung Cancer

A type of lung cancer associated with welding is lung cancer, and for good reason. Essentially, the trade is performed by using heat to melt metal and form it in specific ways to fuse together pieces of metal.

Multiple types of welding accomplish this by using gases. And by heating up your gases to an extreme temperature then applying it to metal, fumes are going to be generated.

There is a ton of different elements, metals, and gases that enter into the air while you’re welding.

This brings up the concern of protecting your face and ensuring you aren’t breathing in what gets into the air. When you’re applying heat to the metal, just a few elements and metals that get into the air are aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, copper, argon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide.

And that’s just a short list! This list could go on for about a page, so imagine breathing all that stuff in without the proper protection.

It makes sense that everything welding throws into the air can cause cancer if you consistently breathe it in for long stretches of time. Protect your respiratory system!

Welding and Melanoma

The other type of cancer most commonly associated with welding is melanoma or skin cancer.

Welding is a trade you wouldn’t typically associate with skin cancer, but it is certainly a risk to the welder. That’s why we have every piece of PPE that’s required for protection.

Luckily, covering as much of your body from the light of the arc is going to give you the safety you need. The arc generated when welding is bright. It has to be if it’s giving off UV light that can potentially cause cancer.

Think about a tanning bed constantly attacking your skin if you aren’t protected right when welding. That small area of UV light that your arc gives off includes radiation that will cause skin problems if you’re not covered.

With protection that from head to toe, you will greatly lower the risk of melanoma caused by welding. To conclude, there are risks that come along with just about anything we get ourselves into.

Welding happens to be a trade that includes cancer-risks. That’s okay. We’re not saying welding will cause cancer, but it can if you do not protect yourself


National Center for Biotechnology Information

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David Harper

David is the Co-Founder and Senior Editor at David's an experienced fitter and tuner/welder who's passionate about helping others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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