For many years welders have put things together and, using their torches, occasionally take them apart. Ships wouldn't float, cars wouldn't hold together, and skyscrapers would not stand were it not for the work of welders. At times, welders are called upon to dismantle structures, such as taking down old bridges or elevated roadways. Whatever they do, it is dangerous work that can result in immediate harm, and there are a number of health hazards associated with welding that take some while to develop.
Virtually all welding rods contain some manganese, the percentage varying by the type of welding, but as early as 1932 a German physician reported the onset of manganese-induced neurologic disease among welders. He reported on two cases that had come to his attention, one after only 49 days of work. Additional reports and government documents over the years characterized welding as a potential health hazard.
Although cases of manganese induced neurologic disease from welding rods have been made note of in the past, it is now a major area of interest, both with regard to the science involved, and to the legal ramifications from selling potentially hazardous materials without adequate controls or warnings.