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Air Fed Welding Masks

Friday, 1st March 2019

February 2019 saw a “Safety Alert” from the Health & Safety Executive.

The notice reports on new Scientific Evidence that links Welding Fume exposure to Lung Cancer.

Click the “H&S Safety Alert” Text Link below to view, or Downloaded via the “Download” Button:

Welding Fume Protection

There is no single solution to Welding Fume Protection as it depends heavily on the environment where welding is carried out.

I’ve lost count of number of times a customer has told me that they keep the door open, or they only weld outside as justification for not having proper welding fume protection.

Dealing with Welding Fumes

In simple terms, you have to prevent Welders (and anybody else in the workshop), from breathing in Welding Fumes.

There are two basic ways of doing this: remove the fume at source to prevent it from reaching the welders Breathing Zone. Or protect the Welders Breathing Zone with a Respirator.

Removing the fume at source means using Fume Extraction Equipment. Protecting the Welders Breathing Zone means using an Air Fed Welding Mask.

Fume Extraction

Fume Extractors come in a number of guises. The three most common are:

  • Units with arms that are placed close to the welding
  • Benches that suck fumes down into the bench.
  • Special Mig Torches that have built in extraction.
Welding Fume Extraction

Fume Extractors use air suction to draw the fume away before it can rise into the Welders Breathing Zone.

Fume Extraction systems typically have a filter that filters out the harmful Particulate Fume and returns the cleaned air to the workshop. Some systems extract to the outside environment, but exhaust points are strictly controlled. After all, no one wants workshops protecting their welders by extracting the fume, only to pump it out onto the street where the public are walking by!!

The advantages of Fume Extraction at source include:

  • Removal of Fume from the workshop, so other staff are also protected
  • Low Maintenance – Filters need only occasional replacement

The alternative to Fume Extraction at source is to protect the welders Breathing Zone from the rising fume. An Air Fed Welding Mask, or PAPR system (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) is an excellent way to do this.

Air Fed Welding Mask

Air Fed Welding Mask

An Air Fed Welding Mask is battery Powered and worn on a belt around the welders waist. Air is sucked into the back of the Respirator Unit, through a Filter, then passed up to the Welding Helmet via a hose. This Air is then poured down across the Welders face. By creating this curtain of filtered air, which is further helped by a Face Seal, Fumes rising up from the weld do not enter the Welders Breathing Zone, inside the Welding Helmet.

Air Fed Welding Helmet advantages include:

  • Unit goes wherever the welder goes – He/She is wearing it!!
  • In hot conditions, the air flow across the welders face has a cooling effect.
  • An Air Fed Welding Mask is significantly cheaper than a Fume Extraction System.


The latest Health & Safety Executive “Safety Alert” is clear, action MUST be taken to protect Welders Lungs as well as anyone else who might be exposed to the welding fumes. Failure to do so is going to end up with much bigger problems, probably legal ones!

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