Welders affected by manganese from welding fumes through exposure, risk acquiring added clumsiness in which case the result may persist decades after exposure has ceased. The mentioned finding of a study was of former shipyard workers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
It is estimated that 35,000 people in Sweden work full-time with welding, while many more carry out welding as one of several workplace activities. Previous research has shown that the concentration of manganese in the air during welding often lies at levels that can give immediate negative effects on the central nervous system, but the long-term effects of exposure to manganese have been essentially unexplored.
Effects on fine motor skillsScientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have now shown in a study of former shipyard workers in Gothenburg that long-term exposure to manganese can give permanent effects on fine motor skills almost 20 years after the exposure has ceased.
Total individual mangan exposureThe investigation showed that shipyard welders performed less well than the other shipyard workers in a test of manual dexterity and motor speed. The scientists also calculated a measure of total manganese exposure for each individual."The investigation showed that individuals with higher total manganese exposure had a poorer performance. We interpret this as a possible remaining effect of previous exposure to manganese, which is remarkable, given that so long a period had passed since they stopped welding", says Gunilla Wastensson.