Winter 2013 an automotive pressings and fabrication company employed a welder who developed a rash over his whole body. The medical history of the welder pointed to occupational exposure being the cause of the rash. The occupational physician wanted to know what the welder had been exposed to that may have caused this allergic reaction. The physician believed that inhalation exposure rather than contact with the allergen was the cause.
We were called in to investigate. Parts from the UK, Spain, Netherlands and Sweden were welded. The parts were coated in oil. The material safety data sheets for the oils used on the parts were collected and organic based oils such as Tall oil and Pine oil were identified. Samples of the oils were taken by wipe and sent for analysis by gas chromatography for semi volatile hydrocarbon identification analysis. These results were sent to the physician. Samples of “fume” from fuming parts coming out of the adjacent robot welder were analysed for semi volatile hydrocarbons. It was possible that Formaldehyde had been produced from the action of heat or ozone on the oil coatings. Drager tubes were used to test for Formaldehyde and Ozone in the welding fume plume. Neither was detected. I collected data on the composition of the welded parts and the welding wire. I also tested the welding fume for known metals as well as Nickel, in case something had been introduced. I looked at the gloves and the washing of overalls. The gloves were Nitrile disposable gloves under Nitrile palmed gloves for handing parts and chromed leather for welding.
All of the information was sent off to the physician. The employee was referred to a specialist dermatologist.
We were told that the information we had provided was useful to the dermatologist. Due to data protection and the lengthy chain of professionals I was not informed of the final outcome.