WCAT Decision Number:
A2100606 (August 17, 2022)
The employer’s ECP for welding fumes listed the products used in the metal shop. From the
employer’s inventory of products, none of the products used contained cadmium. Some
metal products, such as steel, could be plated with a thin layer of cadmium to increase
resistance to corrosion. This cadmium coating was normally between 5 and 25 micrometers
in thickness. It was unknown if the school had any plated materials; however, given the
extremely thin coating and low level of use, it was unlikely that this created a hazardous
Other metals found in the products used in the metal shop included manganese, iron,
copper, and aluminum. The products also contained titanium dioxide, sodium fluoride,
kaolin, calcium fluoride, barium compounds and mica-like minerals.
Based on the engineering report of March 2018, the capture hood in the forge area did not
provide adequate exhaust of heat and fumes generated by the casting process, and the
welding area had an air velocity below what it should be. However, the size of the metal
shop would provide some general dilution of contaminants. Even though the exhaust fans
were not performing optimally, they had some capacity to remove gases and fumes.
Welding fume was generated daily while students worked on projects. However, the small
number of students using the equipment at any one time kept the level of contaminants low.
When students received instruction and caught up on paperwork, there were no
contaminants generated. In the instructional setting at school, the level of welding fume
contaminants generated were lower than in a production facility. Therefore, it was likely that
the worker experienced frequent exposure to low levels of welding fume contaminants
through her work as an instructor.
On April 25, 2019, Board medical advisor Dr. Raghukumar provided a lengthy opinion
addressing the worker’s potential exposure to carbon monoxide and the cause of her uterine
fibroid. She summarized the worker’s exposure history, key reporting documents, the Board’s
investigation reports, and medical record, which is in keeping with my summary above.
Dr. Raghukumar noted the worker attended the hospital in mid-December 2017. Examination of
her vital signs were noted to be stable in relation to her temperature, pulse, respiratory rate,
blood pressure, and oxygen saturation levels. The remainder of the examination findings were
unremarkable. The worker’s blood work results were unremarkable in relation to her white blood
cell count, hemoglobin, electrolytes, renal function, and blood gases. Her carboxyhemoglobin
was reported at 2.8, which was normal. In Dr. Raghukumar’s opinion, there was no confirmed
diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dr. Raghukumar also opined that the worker’s fibroid was unrelated to her work. She noted that
uterine fibroids were mostly benign gynecologic tumors in women of reproductive age. They
were common with about 77% of women likely to develop them in their lifetime. The medical
literature documented various known risk factors for uterine fibroids including a patient’s age at
menarche, parity, ethnicity, and weight/obesity. Dr. Raghukumar was unable to find any specific
epidemiological studies pertaining to uterine fibroids among welders. She noted that fibroids
were not listed among the known health hazards to welding fume exposure (as per the
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