We have been a pioneer in North America, providing welding fume extraction solutions since the 1980s. In this blog post, you will find the exposure limits applicable in Saskatchewan for some of the most common hazardous metals and gases found in welding fume.

Fumes are formed when a metal is heated above its boiling point, and its vapors condense into very fine particles. Their size ranges from 0.005 to 20 µm, but most are smaller than 1 µm and may deposit throughout the respiratory system.

The fume composition depends on the material being welded, the electrode, the coatings, the flux, and the shielding gas, among other things. Air sampling is usually necessary to know which hazardous and regulated substances are in your working environment. But getting information on the composition of metals, gases, and consumables used in the welding process is usually a good start.

What particulates are potentially dangerous in welding fume?

Here is a list of some dangerous metals and gases commonly found in welding fume that will be covered on this page:

  • Aluminum
  • Antimony
  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Iron oxide
  • Lead
  • Manganese (learn more about manganese in welding fumes)
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel
  • Silver
  • Tin
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Vanadium
  • Zinc
  • Argon
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Helium
  • Hydrogen Fluoride
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Phosgene

Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety Regulations – Welding Fume

In Saskatchewan, companies must follow the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Contamination limits can be found in Table 18, as explained in Section 21.6.

“If a chemical substance or biological substance listed in Table 18 of the Appendix is present at a place of employment, an employer shall: provide adequate engineering controls, to the extent that it is reasonably practicable to do so, to ensure that the contamination limit set out in Table 18 is not exceeded in any area where a worker is usually present; and take all practicable steps to ensure that no worker’s personal exposure exceeds the contamination limit set out in Table 18.”

Sections 6.2 and 6.3 detail the expectations regarding ventilation. Here are a few quotes that could apply to welding fume. As you will see, companies are encouraged to use welding fume extractors.

“(1) An employer, contractor or owner shall provide a mechanical ventilation system in a place of employment that is sufficient and suitable to protect the workers against inhalation of a contaminant and to prevent accumulation of the contaminant and ensure that the mechanical ventilation system is maintained and properly used, if any work, activity or process in the place of employment gives off a dust, fume, gas, mist, aerosol or vapour or other contaminant of a kind and quantity that is likely to be hazardous to workers; or substantial quantities of contaminants of any kind.”

“(3) If practicable, an employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that a mechanical ventilation system required by subsection (1) includes local exhaust ventilation that is installed and maintained at or near the point of origin of the contaminant so as to prevent effectively the contaminant from entering the air of the place of employment […]”.

If you have any questions about welding fume, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to give you some insight, and we can even visit you for free in the US and Canada.

Henlex Inc.

Saskatchewan – Contamination Limits for Welding Fume, Metals, and Gases

Based on the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, the following limits are the applicable Contamination Limits (CL) in Saskatchewan for welding fume and some of its components.

Abbreviations used in the tables below:

  • TWA: The Time-Weighted Average concentration for an 8-hour workday and a 40-hour workweek
  • STEL: Short-Term Exposure Limit (maximum time-weighted average concentration for 15 minutes)
  • C: Ceiling (concentration never to be exceeded)
  • (i): Inhalable fraction (see Table A just after Table 18 of the Appendix in the Regulations)
  • (r): Respirable fraction (see Table B just after Table 18 of the Appendix)
  • (t): total fraction
Welding Fumes5mg/m310mg/m3
Aluminum oxide10mg/m320mg/m3
Chromium metal & (III)0.5mg/m31.5mg/m3
Chromium (VI), soluble0.05mg/m30.15mg/m3
Chromium (VI), insoluble0.01mg/m30.03mg/m3
Copper fume0.2mg/m30.6mg/m3
Iron Oxide5mg/m310mg/m3
Tin metal & oxide2mg/m34mg/m3
Titanium dioxide10mg/m320mg/m3
Vanadium pentoxide0.05mg/m3(r)0.15mg/m3(r)
Zinc oxide2mg/m3(r)10mg/m3(r)
Carbon Dioxide5,000ppm30,000ppmNone
Carbon Monoxide25ppm190ppmNone
Hydrogen Fluoride0.5ppmNone2ppm
Nitric Oxide25ppm38ppmNone
Nitrogen Dioxide3ppm5ppmNone
* Simple asphyxiant: a concentration limit is not included because available oxygen is the limiting factor.

ACGIH – Threshold Limit Values for Welding Fume, Metals, and Gases

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) is an important organization researching hazardous substances and recommending exposure limits. They influence most health and safety organizations in North America, and knowing their recommended Threshold Limit Values (TLV) is very valuable.

Threshold Limit Values are copyrighted by ACGIH and cannot be reproduced on other websites. However, you will find the links to the relevant pages on their website below.

ACGIH has not published a recommendation regarding welding fumes in general. Therefore, they fall under the Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated category. The ACGIH recommendation, in this case, is a TLV-TWAEV of 3mg/m3 for respirable particles and 10mg/m3 for inhalable particles.

* A concentration limit is not included because available oxygen is the limiting factor.

Health risks associated with breathing welding fumes

According to OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the CNESST (Quebec), breathing welding fumes could cause the following health effects:

  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Breathing difficulties that could lead to suffocation or asphyxiation
  • Metal fume fever
  • Lung damage and various types of cancer
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Kidney damage
  • Nervous system damage
  • Manganism
  • Chest pain
  • Asthma
  • Bleedings
  • Dermatitis or eczema
  • Kidney disease
  • Bone and joint disorders
  • Siderosis (iron oxide in lung tissue after inhalation)
  • Stannosis (tin oxide in lung tissue after inhalation)
  • Anthracosis (poisoning after inhalation of carbon dust)
  • Berylliosis (poisoning after inhalation of beryllium dust)
  • Accumulation of fluid in the lungs

These are good reasons to protect welders, meet the standards, and even extract pollutants as efficiently as possible. Welding fume extractors will be the best way to do so.

To learn more about welding fume regulations in another Canadian province or territory, feel free to use one of the links below to be directed to our article on the subject:

Any Questions?

Feel free to contact us. We will help you protect your workers and comply with welding fumes standards anywhere in the US and Canada.