Welding fumes may cause brain damage: study

April 6, 2011

St. Paul, MN – Workers exposed to welding fumes may be at risk for damage in an area of the brain associated with Parkinson’s disease, indicates research from the American Academy of Neurology.

Welding fumes contain manganese, a chemical element that has been linked to neurologic problems such as Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, according to a press release from AAN. Researchers studied 20 welders with no symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, 20 non-welders with Parkinson’s and 20 non-welders without Parkinson’s.

The average manganese levels among welders were 2 times the upper limits of normal levels, the release said. They had an average 11.7 percent reduction in dopamine markers. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that is decreased in certain parts of the brain in people with Parkinson’s. Also, motor skill tests showed mild movement difficulties in the welders.

The research was published online April 6 in the journal Neurology.