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PLoS One. 2015 Jul 6;10(7):e0131648. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131648. eCollection 2015.

A Cross-Sectional Study of the Cardiovascular Effects of Welding Fumes.

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Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
Competence Centre for Clinical Research, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; Unit of Metals & Health, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



Occupational exposure to particulate air pollution has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the risk to welders working today remains unclear. We aimed to elucidate the cardiovascular effects of exposure to welding fumes.


In a cross-sectional study, structured interviews and biological sampling were conducted for 101 welders and 127 controls (all non-smoking males) from southern Sweden. Personal breathing zone sampling of respirable dust was performed. Blood pressure (BP) and endothelial function (using peripheral arterial tonometry) were measured. Plasma and serum samples were collected from peripheral blood for measurement of C-reactive protein, low-density lipoprotein, homocysteine, serum amyloid A, and cytokines.


Welders were exposed to 10-fold higher levels of particles than controls. Welders had significantly higher BP compared to controls, an average of 5 mm Hg higher systolic and diastolic BP (P ≤ 0.001). IL-8 was 3.4 ng/L higher in welders (P=0.010). Years working as a welder were significantly associated with increased BP (β=0.35, 95%CI 0.13 - 0.58, P=0.0024 for systolic BP; β=0.32, 95%CI 0.16 - 0.48, P<0.001 for diastolic BP, adjusted for BMI) but exposure to respirable dust was not associated with BP. No clear associations occurred between welding and endothelial function, or other effect markers.


A modest increase in BP was found among welders compared to controls suggesting that low-to-moderate exposure to welding fumes remains a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

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