Welding companies offer good-paying jobs for skilled tradespeople, and this career can be incredibly fulfilling for employees who like to work with their hands. Unfortunately, the honest workers who hold these jobs could be at an increased risk of serious health problems due to their environment.

A new study found that workers who are exposed to welding fumes are more likely to develop lung cancer than workers who were not exposed. Researchers examined data from 45 previous studies, which included about 17 million participants overall. Workers exposed to welding fumes were 43% more likely to develop lung cancer.

Other factors

This trend holds true even when adding factors such as smoking and asbestos exposure. Researchers also reviewed the studies that accounted for smoking and asbestos exposure on their own, and welding was still associated with a 17% higher risk of developing lung cancer.

However, researchers were limited by a lack of data determining whether cancer risk varied for different welding processes. They couldn’t determine if there were greater or lesser risks for workers who performed flux-core arc welding, gas metal arc welding or gas tungsten arc welding. They also lacked data on the duration of welders’ exposure.

Even without the additional data, researchers still concluded the results identify the need for improved safety measures to reduce fume exposure in the workplace. Welders who develop lung cancer at work may be forced to miss work and pay for treatment. If this happens, their employer may be responsible for compensating the employee.