Welding Fumes in the Car Department
Our mechanical department clients typically start with welding fumes when describing their most consistent, everyday exposure. At any given time, someone was welding in the shop. Car shop ventilation systems were either non-existent or poorly maintained, allowing the welding fumes to linger in the air. Welders suffered high exposures to lead and cadmium, known causes of cancer. Today, most railroads require respirators when carmen are welding on stainless steel, galvanized metals, aluminum and carbon steel. But 20-30 years ago, respirators were not always available and thus mechanical department welders suffered toxic exposures to carcinogens while welding.
Diesel Exhaust in the Car Shop
Historically, there were numerous sources of diesel exhaust inside a car shop, including forklifts, car movers, track mobiles, and Pettibone cranes. Even some of the torpedo heaters used in the winter were powered by diesel fuel. Diesel equipment of one kind or another was typically left running inside the car shops. Locomotives were often idling near the car shop, which would cause further diesel exhaust exposures for the carmen inside. Car department employees performing inbound and outbound inspections in the yard suffered diesel exposures from the passing locomotives.