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Fume Fever


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Ok before I begin with this post I want to say I understand the severity of ths subject with the passing of many smiths in the past, most beloved Paw Paw, but I have a question or more or less a situation. Apartently someone had thrown a nail in my coal bucket I found it after my session yesterday almost completely burnt to a crisp. while today i've been having migraines and feeling nausious all day, is it possible that something that small could produce a threat? Again I'm not trying to make light of a serious subject, just I'm not sure how to measure exposure to the fumes. And of info's sake I was outdoors smithing. Thanks for your considerations.

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Did you do anything since the nail in the fire that would cause the headaches? Do you have a forge hood to get the smoke out of your work area? Breathing the fumes (not heavy smoke, but the clear exhaust from the fire) is a good way to get carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into your system.

Firefighters help out here. What are the symptoms of co and co2 exposure and how long to recover?

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I just have to offer some input on this subject, but I should caution EVERYONE to take this with however many grains of salt you feel appropriate. I welded in a major lighting and power transmission pole manufacturer for over 18 years, I worked at this company for almost 25 years total. I would guess that 80 - 90 % of our products got a galvanized finish. This company boasted some of the largest galvanizing tanks in the country if not the world at one point. Many times, if a product was built wrong and not caught until after it was put through the "big silver swimming pool", as we fonding called it, I would have to effect repairs on the product. This involved cutting out/off the offending part and re-positioning and re-welding it to proper specifications. This, in turn involved burning a fair amount of zinc. I always remember a "sweet" smell (this can only mean I breathed the fumes) when the zinc would burn and leave a white chalky residue on the adjacent metal. After the repair was made, the common procedure to repair the the galvanized finish was to heat the metal surface with a O/A torch and melt sticks of zinc, called "galvalloy", onto the new welding or new metal. I never wore a respirator or took any precaution to avoid the fumes. It has been over five years since this exposure and to this day I have no health issues (that I know of) from this exposure. I know about Jim Paw Paw Wilson's demise, and having met him feel a great loss in the smithing world, as well as someone I would like to have called a friend and I hold the deepest respect for him and his legend, as well as his survivors. However, I also know from meeting Paw Paw, that he was a very heavy smoker, and having a father suffering from lung cancer after 50+ years as a smoker, I can't help wonder if part of Paw Paw's ailment wasn't due to smoking as a contributing factor. I know I will receive all kinds input on this subject and I welcome responses. I just feel that from my own experience, a small exposure to zinc fumes is not something to fear, but rather, BE AWARE that it could be hazardous, based on time exposed and your personal lifestyle. Was I lucky? Will it catch up with me eventually? I don't know. I am, however, more cautious with known hazards, especially due to Paw Paw's misfortune

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A couple of thoughts: Drinking anything does not help when the exposure you recieved is an inhalation one. CO poisoning is a really nast one for a couple of reasons, First it has no odor or taste, When you smell fumes from something you know is giving off CO gas it is from something else not the CO, Like exhaust from an engine. One thing you may notice is headaches, And if you are not one that suffers from headaches it is a tip that if you know you may have been exposed to CO fumes that they are indeed giving you problems. More exposure may lead to muscle weakness and disorientation. This is a major cause of loss of life in house fires. Most folks that die in confined space fires are from smoke inhalation and not from burns. Many times the burns come after the death.
Co replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells and that inhibits the cells to carry oxygen to the body, I t hasa a much greater affinity to the red blood cells than does oxygen. So we can say that a red blood cell will take in CO easier than it will take and carry oxygen. In order to resore the balance of oxygen carrying capability the cells have to be replaced by new ones,,I think I remember that takes four or five days. However if you have chronic exposure, like from daily exposure to toxic inhalants. (smoking is one of them) Then you have a greater risk. And it seems that the impact you may be aware of with an exposure is lessened and may not seem as severe at the time. I am sure I will get some fuss from smokers on this but I did not make the systems..,,,,,,

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What Rich said --
Blood cells can carry CO2, 02, or CO. The first two are neccesary. Blood cells must carry CO2 from the body back to the lungs. Blood cells are 3 times or 5 time more likely (I can't remeber the word) to bond with oxygen, so when exposed to oxgen in the lungs they (most of them at least) give up the carbon dioxide for oxgen. But red blood cells are 40 times more likely to bond with carbon monoxide, they ain't going to give it up very easy.

I saw this on TV 20 or 30 years ago, so it could be way wrong, but at least it sounds good. Maybe we studied this in biology too. Well the mind's the first to go. I think I've been setting too close to the charcoal.

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Welded lots of galvanized, prefer to tig it with silicon bronze filler, less fumes. Respirator yes!
MilK does help you stop retching your guts up, based on my personal experience. Headaches don't wait until the next day from exposure, they are swift and brutal. Occasional nails in the fire, with a good hood/exhaust and not sniffing your fire all the time, minimal exposure
What I've said is based PURELY on personal experience

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Id you're a smoker .. .It would be better to lay off them cigarettes until your headache passes . .and about the CO poisoning. .Co forms STABLE bonds with Hemoglobine while CO2 and O2 form unstable bonds. Any red blood cell that has CO in it has to be killed ( in the liver) and replaced. I say ..don;t smoke and take some ADVIL ( not anvil) . .

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I brazed a good bit of galvanized conduit doing custom work in Dad's orthopaedic shop as a young man. Always noticed the aforementioned "sweet smell" & a little lightheadedness then always compounded it by smoking an unfiltered cigarette right afterwards. Double dumb on my part. :( But, at the time we werent aware of the galvanize hazard, and I was too hard headed about the smoking thing.

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We Weld Zinc Coated Field Fencing;to The Tops Of Hummvs.
Everyone Who Has Welded This Stuff Has Gotten Headaches/body Aches!
We Have Respirators On Order,the Milk/advil Works For Me.
1 Nail I Don't Think So,more Like^ Work Little Water =heat Stress
That's The Army Medic Talk'n ,Not A Real Doc!:)

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yeah I guess the co2 could be the culprit, I'm usually good about drinking water and keeping hydrated b/c I'm proned to gout flares, maybe I'm a little paranoid, I like keeping a tight understanding about what goes into my fire and once I saw the nail I was a little worried but didn't see anything that was symptoms of the fever till the next day. maybe just sinus issues, but thanks for all the advice even if it did seem a little silly of a worry I guess.

-Bobby

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I gotta toss in here.

Zinc isn't nearly as toxic as popularly believed. Don't misconstrue me here, I'm not saying ignore it, take proper precautions, just don't freak out if you get a whiff.

And YES, drinking milk most certainly will help where some inhalation hazards are concerned, zinc being one. Milk stimulates mucus production which helps your lungs flush the zinc oxide fumes out.

One nail make you sick? I doubt it but won't say no way, you could be particularly sensitive to zinc oxide. Unlikely but possible.

I'd almost say a psychosomatic reaction is more likely.

Paw Paw exposed himself to a huge amount of zinc oxide and suffered from COPD. Even so, had he sought medical attention sooner he may well have pulled through. As it was, by the time he relented and went to the doctor the pneumonia (I don't recall what the proper name is) had him well and truly in it's grip.

And yes, I've torched and welded lots of galvy myself. I've "enjoyed" the Blue flue many times in the past and gotten over it every time. Never mass dosed myself though and don't intend to.

Other platings are not the same story though. Electro plated zinc is NOT pure zinc and tends to have much more toxic metals included. Do NOT under any circumstances, weld or grind CAD plated steel it is very toxic. These are the gold colored bolts.

Chrome is also very toxic, especially when heated.

All in all, stay away from breathing metal fumes of any kind, steel and iron included.

Frosty

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