Monday, January 23, 2012

Occupational risk: Former welders are often clumsier

Welding can expose workers to toxic fumes and particulate.
A new study shows that former welders who were exposed to manganese from welding fumes have a risk of developing increased clumsiness.

The effects last long after the exposure has stopped, according to the study of former shipyard workers in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Previous research has linked exposure to manganese and welding fumes to effects on the central nervous system, but this study focused on the long-term effects on fine motor skills.

The welders in the study underwent several tests that measured their manual dexterity and motor speed, eye-hand coordination, tremor and balance. The results were compared to the results of other shipyard workers that did not do any welding.

Those participants that had a higher total manganese exposure showed a poorer performance, the study authors say, giving reason to believe there is a lasting effect of manganese exposure.

What is manganese?

Manganese is a naturally occurring metal in the environment and human bodies, where it aids in the turnover of carbohydrates and fats.

Workers who are exposed to high concentrations of manganese over a considerable time can develop a condition called manganism, a disease with symptoms similar to Parkinson disease.

Experts say that many welders may be regularly exposed to high-risk levels of manganese that exceed official exposure limits.

Source: Health Canal

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