Since the 1980s, we have led the way in North America by offering welding fume extraction solutions. This blog post presents the exposure limits in Saskatchewan for several of the most prevalent hazardous gases and metals found in welding fumes.

Fumes materialize when a metal is heated past its boiling point, causing its vapors to condense into extremely fine particles. These particles span in size from 0.005 to 20 µm, but the majority are less than 1 µm and can potentially spread throughout the respiratory system.

The composition of the fume is determined by several factors, including the material being welded, the electrode, the flux, the coatings, and the shielding gas, among others. Typically, air sampling is needed to identify which hazardous and regulated substances exist in your workspace. However, initially collecting information on the metals, gases, and consumables involved in the welding process can be a good first step.

Which particles in welding fumes can be potentially harmful?

This page will provide information on a variety of dangerous metals and gases frequently found in welding fumes:

  • 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, businesses are required to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Contamination thresholds can be found in Table 18, as clarified 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.”

Ventilation expectations are outlined in Sections 6.2 and 6.3. Here are a few key excerpts that could pertain to welding fumes. As you’ll see, businesses are advised to utilize 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 […]”.



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

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, the following limits are the relevant Contamination Limits (CL) in Saskatchewan for welding fumes and its components.

The tables below use the following abbreviations:

  • 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 a noteworthy organization conducting research on hazardous substances and advising exposure limits. They impact most health and safety organizations in North America, making their recommended Threshold Limit Values (TLV) quite significant.

Threshold Limit Values are copyrighted by ACGIH and are not permitted to be reproduced on other websites. Nevertheless, you’ll find links to the relevant pages on their website below.

ACGIH has not issued a general recommendation concerning welding fumes. As such, they fall under the Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated category. In this instance, the ACGIH recommendation is a TLV-TWA 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

As reported by OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the CNESST (Quebec), breathing welding fumes can lead to various health implications such as:

  • 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 health hazards emphasize the importance of safeguarding welders, abiding by standards, and efficiently removing pollutants. Welding fume extractors are the optimal tool for achieving this.

For further knowledge on welding fume regulations in other Canadian provinces or territories, kindly follow one of the links below, which will guide you to our relevant article:

Any Questions?

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