A recent study conducted by researchers at Washington University at St. Louis suggests that industrial exposure to welding fumes may be associated with the early onset of Parkinson’s disease. Welding rods, electrodes and wire contain numerous substances including manganese, copper, lead and cadmium, that release toxic fumes when used during welding. New evidence suggests that chronic exposure to welding fumes may cause a host of symptoms linked to or similar to Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms of such a condition include; tremors, rigidity, abnormal or shuffling gait, lack of arm swing and loss of balance. If the conclusions drawn by these new studies can be substantiated, claims might be made against the manufacturers of welding rods, electrodes, and wire.

Welders and former welders!

If you are currently suffering from symptoms related to Parkinsons Disease, you may have a claim.

We are currently investigating potential claims against the manufacturers of welding products, including welding rods, wires and electrodes, for damages caused by exposure to manganese fumes. This potentially harmful exposure usually occurs during the process of steel-alloy welding and other steel melting activities.

The process of heating or cutting steel can cause the release of manganese fumes. These fumes, if inhaled, can cause neurological damage. Prolonged exposure to these fumes can cause a condition called manganism, a disorder very similar to Parkinson’s disease. In fact, recently, exposure to manganese fumes due to welding has been associated with the early onset of Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms of manganism and Parkinson’s disease include: fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, apathy, insomnia, feelings of weakness and lethargy, speech disturbances, a mask-like face, tremors, disorientation, loss of memory, impairment of judgment, anxiety, hallucinations, illusions, delusions, abnormal gait, and loss of the ability to control muscular movement.

The following activities can cause exposure to manganese fumes: gas metal arc or metal inert gas (MIG) welding, gas tungsten arc or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, flux cored arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, brazing, thermal cutting, metal pouring or gauging. If you performed welding-related activities, or worked for extended periods of time in areas where such activities were conducted, you may have been exposed to manganese fumes.

If you were involved in any of these welding or welding-related activities OR worked for extended periods of time in areas where such activities were conducted, AND now EITHER are suffering from Manganism, manganese induced Parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease, OR are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, and you are interested in us evaluating your condition, please click here to fill out a questionnaire. The information you provide will enable us to determine the viability of any potential claim you may have.

Below is a list of manufacturers whose welding rods you may have used:

  • Air Products Linde Stoody
  • Airco Manquette Tri-Mark
  • Ancos McKay Co. Unibraze
  • Alloy Rods Mid States Victon
  • Amsco Murex Wall Company
  • Coast Metals National Standard Westinghouse
  • Enterprise Paje
  • Haynes Stellite Rankin
  • Hobart Reid-Avery Co.
  • Lincoln Electric Rexanc

We urge you to act quickly as any claim you may have is subject to a statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, you will be forever prevented from pursuing a claim. Your statute of limitations may have already expired and, if it has not, each day that passes brings you closer to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Contact Bagolie Friedman, toll free, at 1-866-333-3529 now for a confidential and free case evaluation.

The Problem

The use of welding products and equipment in the welding process causes emission of fumes. Many, if not most, of these fumes contain manganese. A small amount of manganese is necessary for the human body to remain healthy. However, too much manganese can cause serious medical problems. Since 1837, manganese has been medically recognized as toxic to the brain and central nervous system when the levels in the body exceed normal limits. The toxicity of manganese causes a progressive condition, referred to as Manganism (also known as manganese poisoning, maganese-induced parkinsonism, and manganese intoxication). Manganism, a form of parkinsonism, manifests itself through various neurological symptoms which can be seriously disabling. People exposed to welding fumes absorb manganese into their body primarily through inhalation of the fumes. This occurs primarily when welders are working in confined spaces without proper ventilation. Inhalation of welding fumes over an extended period of time can lead to Manganism.

The Connection

It has been recognized for almost two centuries that there is a causal connection between welding fumes that contain manganese and neurological injuries. In fact, documentation of these injuries dates back to 1837. In 1837, a published paper described two ore workers who experienced manganese poisoning. These workers were suffering from fixed gaze, slow movements, rigidity, tremor, along with other neurological symptoms. In 1932, a medical article described how manganese electrodes should be avoided and that manganese fumes were a health risk for the welder. In 1937, an insurance company published a welding safety booklet stating that manganese in welding fumes “causes a disease similar to paralysis agitans [Parkinson’s disease]. In 1963, a toxicologist by the name of Dr. Irving Sax published a book which noted that manganese “affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis to a degree which may be disabling” and that “widespread…exposure occurs in electric arc welding since most welding rod coatings contain manganese.” In 1981, the World Health Organization recognized that “Chronic manganese poisoning is a hazard in…welding.” In recent years, several articles have described the link between parkinsonism and welders. According to Dr. Abe Lieberman, manganese is probably responsible for more cases of parkinsonism than any other toxin. An article published in 2001 notes that the pathophysiology of welding-related parkinsonism is similar to idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease. This study found that on average, welders developed parkinsonism 15 years earlier than the general population.

The Difference Between Manganism And Parkinson’s

Parkinsonism is generally thought to be a group of neurological disorders characterized by Hypokinesia (decreased muscular activity), tremor, and muscular rigidity. This group of disorders includes Parkinson’s Disease and Manganism, but these are distinct medical conditions. While Parkinson’s Disease has no known cause, Manganism is caused by overexposure to manganese. There is some tension in the medical literature whether there are differences in the symptoms caused by manganese-induced parkinsonism and idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease. For example, some medical professionals make a distinction between the two conditions based on the clinical presentation. One distinction between the two forms is that patients with Parkinson’s Disease often experience a resting tremor where patients with Manganism often experience an intention tremor. However, because the symptoms are so similar, some patients may be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when they actually suffer from manganese poisoning. Since there are no blood tests which can distinguish between the two, these diseases are usually diagnosed on symptoms and pertinent medial history. While it is possible to measure the amount of manganese in the blood, many patients are seen by the doctor after the manganese exposure has ended and blood levels of manganese have returned to normal. While the symptoms of Manganism and Parkinson’s Disease may be similar, there are distinct differences in the regions of the brain which are affected in these conditions. Manganese toxicity is thought primarily to affect two regions of the basal ganglia, including the striatum and globus palladus. On the other hand, idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease is thought to affect primarily the substantial nigra by reducing dopamine levels. Sinemet, a common medication used for Parkinson’s Disease, acts to replace the dopamine in this region and this medication can favorably affect a patient who has idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease. Due to the different regions of the brain affected in Mangansim, there is often no beneficial effect of dopamine replacement therapy in patients who suffer from this form of parkinsonism. There appear to be three stages in the development of Mangansim. The first stage includes symptoms of malaise, apathy, emotional instability, sexual dysfunction, weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, and headaches. The second stage progresses to include more psychological disturbances, such as impaired memory and judgment, anxiety, and possible hallucinations. Finally, the third stage of manganese poisoning includes symptoms such as progressive bradykinesia, impairment of voluntary movements, gait disturbances, rigidity, tremors, impaired coordination, and mask-like features. Early Mangansim may be reversible upon withdrawal of manganese exposure; however, neurological damage by the third stage of symptoms is reported to be permanent and progressive. People who are affected by manganese poisoning may be permanently and completely disabled.

How The Welding Industry Has Tried To Hide The Risk

Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, lawsuits against companies in the welding industry began appearing. These lawsuits brought claims against not only the manufacturers of welding rods, but also against some of the welding industry’s trade organizations. What follows is a description of the allegations made in that litigation. These allegations have not been proven as fact at this time.The American Welding Society (AWS) is a trade organization that includes within its membership management representatives of companies that manufacture and sell welding products, and large consumers that buy the products for use in their operation. Another large trade organization from the welding industry is the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) which includes welding rod manufacturers as members. These two organizations created several committees, composed of representatives from manufacturers within in the welding industry. These committees, among other things, made decisions on how to disseminate information to the public about the potential hazards of welding fumes. As early as the 1930’s, it has been alleged that members of the welding industry agreed to conceal known hazards associated with welding fumes by forming a committee to preempt investigation of welding fume hazards by independent sources that were not controlled by the industry. The members of the industry agreed to undertake an investigation of the health hazards of welding fumes. However, upon completion of this investigation, they changed the conclusions of the study to represent that welding fumes were not harmful to welders. In the 1940’s, members of NEMA’s Arc Welding Section agreed to publish a two-part article which made the representation that welding fumes were not toxic. Additionally, the members of the industry rejected the adoption of any precautionary product labels for welding products. One possible motivation for this decision was an industry fear that welders would be afraid to use welding products if they were to see such precautionary product labels, and thus sales of welding products would be reduced. In the 1950’s, the industry adopted a policy of refuting existing reports of welding fume hazards by publishing their own reports which represented exposure to welding fumes as safe. It was agreed to sponsor the publication of an article in a trade publication which made the representation that “toxic gases are not produced by electrode coatings.” However, in contrast with the publication, the AWS issued a technical document reflecting its knowledge that manganese in welding fumes is a potentially toxic substance. By the 1970’s, the industry was well aware that welding fumes could cause neurological damage due to manganese poisoning. A study found that welding fumes could easily exceed the recommended occupational exposure guidelines, even when ventilation standards specified by welding rods manufacturers were followed. The industry was also aware that manganese poisoning from welding fumes could be misdiagnosed as idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease, and that the problem was so widespread as to require an epidemiological study. While the committee voted to undertake this epidemiological study, it was never completed. Finally, in 1985, some of the welding rod manufacturers state in their Manufacturer Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which are technical documents of limited distribution, that manganese in welding fumes could cause neurological damage and requires quarterly medical examinations.

What Does All This Mean And What Can I Do Now?

Bagolie Friedman is representing welders and we have come to one conclusion: that the welding rod manufacturers and trade associations have a responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the workers they put in harms way. You may also be covered under your State’s Workers’ Compensation system.

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