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Still have a headache after welding galvanized

I am talking a welding class and I was warned about galvanized steel but accidentally picked some up and welded on it. Since then I have had a headache and felt tired all the time. It's been 4 days since I welded on it. could this be a side effect?

Matt Wyatt
school welding - Wilkesboro, North Carolina

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See a doctor, or at least ask the person who warned you about it, Matt. It's true that galvanize fumes can be a problem (look up 'metal fume fever'). But it's also true that every clinical test requires placebos, which always produce dramatic effects; that every chemical "event" generates people who require hospitalization even if the event was only reported and never actually happened; and that every report about the dangers of something produces, of itself, those symptoms in a percentage of people.

I don't want to minimize whatever it is that you are experiencing, Matt, but there is no way anyone here can help you determine what chemical problem may be acting upon you or how to relieve it--and simply printing your letter here will probably cause a few galvanized welders to begin experiencing headaches and tiredness for 4 days.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

I am not sure if this is true but I have been told that Milk, yes milk (whole Milk) is an antidote to metal fume fever.

I am starting to learn to weld as a hobby, and have a co-worker that is a former certified welder. I was curious about welding on galvanized steel, so I asked him about the affects and the symptoms of metal fume fever. He told me that all you have to do is drink some milk before or after welding on galvanized steel. He also said that welding shops and schools generally have milk on hand just for this purpose. However I think that you should still see a doctor.

Bryan Parker
- Albuquerque, New Mexico

I have been welding galvanized steel for the past 6 years. I take precautions at work but the effects of the fumes are at times unbearable. I cough and hack so much that my chest aches. I cough up phlegm and its gross. I drink plenty of fluids to flush my system out and it works sometimes. Any other suggestions would highly be appreciated.

Billy Robinette
welding fumes - Detroit, Michigan

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It has been my experience that galvanised steel is no laughing matter, I've coughed up blood, had flu like symptoms, and have had awful chest pains, and I have been welding this stuff for nine years. I started when I was sixteen and the effects still surface now and then. All I can recommend is make sure there is proper ventilation, most welders don't have a choice on the materials they weld, but it is a good living and most don't realize that they have rights to state in the health issue area. Ventilation is key. Galvanised is known to cause cancer in very few cases, but be very careful. If needed use a face mask as well, and fan to keep the smoke away from your face. Drinking fluids, water, more than so will help immensely.

Kei Ammicucci
welding co. - Britton, Michigan

September 2, 2009

I'm a qualified fitter welder in Ireland and in that time almost every company I've worked for gave its workers a daily milk allowance.
in other words, the company supplied one pint of milk per day to anyone who is welding. the milk helps the body bring the harmful chemicals through your system and carries them out as waste from your body, rather than harboring in your lungs, etc.
in regards to the galvanised welding, it is always my practice to weld galvanised steel outdoors with the best breathing protection you can get if possible,
if not then weld indoors with extraction and ventilation. full protection is essential as galvanised steel and any form of welding fumes are carcinogenic (cancerous) and must never be breathed in.

peter [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Dublin Ireland

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