Welders by far have the most dangerous job in all of the construction trades. In the past, their workplace injuries were thought to mainly be caused by burns, electricity or a blinding light known as welder’s flash.
Recent studies though also show toxic chemicals released from welding rods pose additional risks to welders…long-term exposure to these chemicals can cause pretty serious conditions in the brain, lungs and nerves. In fact, there’s actually a welder specific condition called manganism, or Welder’s Parkinson’s disease.
Manganese is an element commonly found in welding rods, electrodes and wire. Besides its practical uses, it can also destroy brain cells and cause nerve damage in humans. Welders who constantly inhale toxic manganese molecules put themselves at risk for different nervous system disorders like ataxia, dementia, anxiety, a “mask-like” face and manganism, a syndrome similar to Parkinson’s disease.
While it’s similar to Parkinson’s disease, manganism is unique to manganese poisoning. Exposure to this chemical causes a drop in the brain’s dopamine levels according to research published in Experimental Neurology journal and elsewhere.
Dopamine is a chemical naturally produced by the brain and is one neurotransmitter responsible for proper motor function. People suffering from both regular and welder’s Parkinson’s disease have problems maintaining their balance, a tendency to fall backwards, stiffness and a difficult time moving their face’s muscles.
Latter stages of manganism are characterized by short-term memory loss, slurred speech, sleep disorders and impaired judgment.
Welders with the manganism disorder do not respond to treatments for Parkinson’s disease. At this time, there are no treatment options. Whatever damage they have is permanent.
This occupational disease should be covered by workers’ compensation in Colorado. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or have been diagnosed by a doctor as having disorders caused by welding and are experiencing difficulty in obtaining any medical care or benefits, contact Denver workers’ compensation attorneys at the Babcock Law Firm today for a free consultation today.