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topic 7728

Health Effects of Cutting Galvanized Pipe


Could you please send me some information on the health effects of breathing in galv. fumes? I spend a lot of time cutting galv. pipe and rhs and I don't believe the fumes are doing me any good. Any information would be greatly appreciated.


David Platten
- Australia


Look at an MSDS (hoping Australia has these, or something similar) for galvanized products. Check out the web search engines, too.

You will see that any process that involves heating the zinc coating on the steel, releases zinc fume. These are not as severely toxic as a lot of metal fumes, but you can "get the shakes" pretty easily from inhaling even small amount of fume. Bottom line is: always wear a respirator designed for stopping particulate, and, if possible, work under an exhaust hood. If this is impossible, then work in a well ventilated area, like outdoors. Try drinking at least a liter of milk, if the above still results in the shakes - it worked for me one time when I got too much zinc fume. I don't know why it works, but the effects go away soon without reoccurring, and with no lasting damage, as far as I know.

Good luck.

W. Carl Erickson
- Rome, New York



What Carl says makes eminent sense, not only for 'zinc' but for many metal cutting operations. Even when welding the so-called weldable (plastic, of course) fluorocarbons respirators are necessary.

One point (but not applicable if you are wearing a respirator), never, ever, ever work 'under' a fume hood (i.e., a canopy fume hood), it's not a recommended practice.

Theory says get a good ventilation source, i.e. a fume hood, very near to the emission source. Practice says that this is totally impractical in most cases. Another good reason for a respirator or some type of mask.

Thank you Carl for the milk tip. The dairy industry would love that recommendation!

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).

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