What is a Welding Respirator?
A welding respirator is worn by a person who welds. Welding produces harmful and potentially fatal fumes which are extremely dangerous for a person to breathe. Filters in the welding respirator stop the harmful gases from being inhaled by the welder, thereby protecting the welder against poisoning and toxic contamination. The welding respirator is especially important when welding inside a closed area and is often a welder's only lifeline and means of protection against toxic fumes.
The basic principle of welding is heating steel and a filler rod to the point of melting and using a filler rod to merge the melted steel with the melted filler to form a single joint. In stick welding, flux coating is burned off of the rod and creates a protective gas that shields the weld until it solidifies. In wire welding, a gas is introduced at the point of heat and contact of the weld, which shields the cooling weld in the same manner. The shielding gases can be harmful if inhaled without the protection from a welding respirator.
Some metals, such as aluminum, are inherently dangerous to weld due to the gases that are released when they are melted. This is a concern due to the quantities of aluminum products that are manufactured by welding. In large aluminum tanks, the welder is actually inside of the container while making internal welds. This process is made possible through the use of a welding respirator designed specifically for use when welding aluminum.
There are several different types of welding respirators available to choose from depending on the type of welding that will be done. Powered air purifying respirators use a motorized air pump that sends air through a filter before presenting the clean air to the welder. A supplied air welding respirator uses bottled air that is sent into a protective hood and is used to breathe instead of any contaminated air. This welding respirator works much like a scuba tank. The final design is a disposable mask that filters out harmful gasses when worn over the nose and mouth, much like a surgeon's mask.
It is imperative that the proper welding respirator be correctly matched with the welding project. Failure to use the proper respirator is as dangerous as wearing no respirator. When directions are followed, welding is a safe method of joining metals together both at home and in the workplace. When facing a welding project, it is important to research the type of respirator required for safe breathing.
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