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Welding Galvanized Pipe

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Could anyone tell me if there are health risks associated with stick welding galvanized pipe? Usually I use black pipe when I weld, but for this project, a piece of galvanized pipe I have on hand is the right size. I want to weld heavy angle lengthwise along the pipe. This should be about 10 minutes of welding fumes max outdoors. In the past I noticed that galvanized cuts/burns differently with a torch and welding leaves a white powder inside the pipe and some white powder outside. I also noticed that the fumes are also different when welding galvanized. Should I be concerned other than perhaps a sore throat or headache? I am not concerned about any short-term effects.
Dale in Tx
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Nope, don't worry about it. There is a theoretical risk, but you'd need to be doing it day-long year-round for decades for it to be a real worry. I wouldn't hesitate myself, and if I was doing it long-term I'd only arrange a fan to blow across the work.
Although the risk of a short term exposure is very small here is a bit of information.

Many years ago(Im guessing about 50) the welding company used to pass out vouchers for whole milk to their welding employees. I hear this was suppose to neutralize the effects of the fumes. long as you are welding in an open area you shouldn't have any problems. To prevent distortion to your metal take your time welding and allow each portion welded to cool somewhat before you strike another arc......fordy.... :eek: :)
Whether the 50-year old policy was valid, milk goats on the homestead make it a no-brainer to drink milk at least for good luck!

Thanks everyone for your comments. If I ever go crazy (or shall I say get worse than I already am), I cannot blame it on welding galvanized pipe.
Dale in Tx

Oregonsparkie said:
Although the risk of a short term exposure is very small here is a bit of information.

Many years ago(Im guessing about 50) the welding company used to pass out vouchers for whole milk to their welding employees. I hear this was suppose to neutralize the effects of the fumes.
WELDING FUMES FROM GALVANIZED METAL ARE DEADLY, do not weld galvanized metal indoors, install a fan to blow them away if you must weld galvanized metal. Plumbers have been found dead when they used a torch on galvanized fittings under a house. The white smoke is LEAD and can kill in minutes. The fumes can gather on cloth and go with you for many months. Totally outdoors only, totaly with it blown away, there is no other way.......listen or die.....your choise....there is no part of NO you should not understand...

Edited to say; go to google, enter 'weld galvanized metal' , read the 18 THOUSAND warnings, your on your own on this one now.
listen to moopups welding galvanized metal is dangerious they dont do it anymore period....
it will weld but not good either the best way is to grind off the galvanizing.
I'm really curious where you folks that got the "it's OK" info found it? I have never even heard that's it's ok to weld galvanized until today. I've know several people that got very sick from it, I've even taken too much of a chance and felt ill afterwards. Do NOT weld galvanized and take chances. So glad you asked before attempting it. Loren
I took your advice and went to Google to do a search on galvanized welding safety. After I read several articles, I did not find much doom and gloom other than an increased incidence/severity of metal fume fever as well as that those that had welded a lot of galvanized in the past avoid it or take additional precations to avoid the fumes to avoid the 'fever'.

It turns out that the white powder is Zinc Oxide and that the lead is reported to be less than 0.5% of the composition of galvanizing and thus avoiding the Zinc fumes also is effective in avoiding the Lead (and the Lead also oxidizes at a much higher temperature than Zinc).

Even though I will be outdoors and it is only about 10 minutes of welding, I think I will get a portable fan to blow the fumes away from me. Drinking the one or two liters of milk that some claim help treat the symptoms of metal fume fever is more than I wish to drink at a time. Another good suggestion I found was to grind the coating off the area to be welded to reduce the Zinc fumes--which I will also do.

The most interesting article was from Sperko Engineering titled "Welding Galvanized Steel -- Safely"

Dale in Tx

The article address is:

Part of it is as follows:

"Welding of Galvanized Products
Welding of galvanized steel is done almost exactly the same way as welding of the bare steel of the same composition; the
same welding processes, volts, amps, travel speed, etc. can be used with little modification when the switch is made from
uncoated steel to galvanized steel -- unless the zinc coating is unusually thick.
The difference between welding galvanized steel and welding uncoated steel is a result of the low vaporization temperature of
the zinc coating. Zinc melts at about 900°F and vaporizes at about 1650°F. Since steel melts at approximately 2,750°F and
the welding arc temperature is 15,000 to 20,000°F, the zinc that is near the weld does not stand a chance -- it's vaporized!
By the time the weld pool freezes, the zinc is gone. This has two immediate consequences:
• The vaporized zinc increases the volume of welding smoke and fumes.
• The zinc at and near any welds is actually burned off by the heat of the arc, removing the protective zinc coating.

Zinc Fumes -- A Safety Hazard?
When zinc vapor mixes with the oxygen in the air, it reacts instantly to become zinc oxide. This is the same white powder
that you see on some noses at the beach and the slopes. Zinc oxide is non-toxic and non carcinogenic. Extensive research1
into the effects of zinc oxide fumes has been done, and although breathing those fumes will cause welders to think that they
have the flu in a bad way, there are no long-term health effects. Zinc oxide that is inhaled is simply absorbed and eliminated
by the body without complications or chronic effects. Current research2 on zinc oxide fumes is concentrated in establishing
the mechanism by which zinc oxide causes "metal fume fever," how its effects are self-limiting and why zinc oxide fume
effects ameliorate after the first day of exposure even though the welder may continue to be exposed to zinc during subsequent
days ("Monday-morning fever"). Other research3 is being done using zinc oxide fumes together with various drugs which
results in a synergetic effect for treatment of cancer and AIDS. Another area of research is use of zinc compounds as the active
ingredients in throat lozengers that are recognized as significantly effective in reducing the duration and intensity of the
common cold.
Typical “metal fume fever” begins about 4 hours after exposure, and full recovery occurs within 48 hours. The symptoms
include fever, chills, thirst, headache and nausea. All of these symptoms, pain and suffering, as well as lost work (and play)
time, can be avoided entirely by simply not inhaling the zinc oxide fumes. This can easily be done using any of the
methods described later."
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