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Fume extraction systems have been used by shops for decades in order to protect their workers from hazardous welding fumes. While welding, particulate and gaseous matter is produced. Some of this matter is harmful to human health. As a result, OSHA now regulates the maximum allowable amount of hazardous fume compounds.
How do fume extraction systems actually work, and why should shops invest in them?
Fume extractors are tools that extract, filtrate, and collect hazardous material from fumes.
In the US, OSHA regulates how much of a given chemical workers are allowed to be exposed to. Because these fumes can be hazardous to health, it’s important that shops do their best to reduce workers’ exposure to an absolute minimum.
Fume extractors come in several different formats, including:
Portable fume extractors are small and can be carted around from workstation to workstation. The hose is put right over the workstation and the machine sucks up the fumes and filters them.
These are perfect for shops that do a lot of work in multiple different locations.
Mounted fume extractors have a static location. These fumes extractors can be mounted on the floor, the wall, on the machinery, or on an elevated surface. These are small, powerful units that are great for jobs that require the hoses close to the source of the fumes.
These fume extractors are small and are stationed right on the work table. Some have wings, allowing for a set space to do the job that is producing fumes.
Benchtop fume extractors are excellent for small welding and soldering jobs, and also have niche uses in nail salons.
Fume extraction systems work very similarly to a typical vacuum cleaner, except these systems are made specifically to suck up air rather than solid matter.
They create vacuum pressure with a motor, and a turbine inside spins in order to generate power for collecting fumes.
These fumes come into the unit through a hose, and the fumes are taken through a filtering system in the unit.
The filtering system is made up of one or multiple filters that remove heavy material from the fume-tainted air. Then, the air is blown out through the unit to replenish the room with clean air.
Not all fume extraction systems work the same, however. Some filters are cleanable, and others are disposable. Some units actively clean the filter, while others don’t.
Make Sure Your Fume Extraction System Is Up To Standards!
OSHA has permissible exposure limits (PELs) for various compounds in welding fumes. Your system needs to make sure that your workspaces maintain these limits! If they cannot, you will need to replace your fume extractor.