Asbestos in Welding Rods and Other Building Materials
Welding rods are also known as welding electrodes. Available in a number of different sizes and varieties, these products are made from various types of metal and an anti-oxidation agent known as "flux." Welding rods work as a type of "glue" to join two pieces of metal together through the welding process; they reinforce the bond, making it more durable.
There are four main types of welding rods that are commonly used. The most common type is "6010," which is an all-purpose welding rod able to withstand up to 60,000 pounds of pulling force. Other types include 7018, which is low in hydrogen content and used where moisture is an issue; 308L, used for welding stainless steel components; and 24 AC/DC, which welders employ when it is necessary to join two different types of metal.
Asbestos in welding rods was usually part of the flux surrounding the rod itself. It was in part a safety measure to prevent welding accidents. The other purpose that asbestos served was to add tensile strength to the final bond; asbestos is a type of stone, and shares that material's durability.
Although most asbestos use in the manufacture of welding products was phased out during the 1980s, millions of asbestos-containing welding rods were sold before regulations took effect. Even today, more than two decades later, it is possible that many welding rods of all types are still on hardware and welding supply store shelves.
Hazards Associated with Welding Products
Welders are the primary victims of asbestos exposure from the use of asbestos-containing welding rods. Welding is a very high-heat application and while asbestos is very resistant to heat, under the harsh conditions of most welding jobs the asbestos in the flux could very easily enter the atmosphere and be inhaled by the welder or anyone else in the vicinity.Sources
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)
N/A. "4 Different Types of Welding Rods Explained."
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