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In considering risk factors associated with welding operations, fumes have always represented one of the most controversial aspects, on account of the complexity of underlying chemical and physical phenomena and the difficulty inherent in interpreting the related epidemiological data. In this paper, technical data referring to the measurement of emission rates carried out with the 'fume-box' method are reported. This is the only technique that allows for the evaluation of the effect of the various parameters involved, even though these data are not extremely useful for the purpose of assessing exposure on the part of welders. The matter is therefore discussed with the main goal of identifying corrective factors which will lead to reducing exposure at the source, this being an operation in any case necessary within the framework of a risk-reduction strategy. The resulting scenario is reassuring as it shows that a reduction in emission can be achieved by means of operations that also emphasize the importance of quality and productivity, indicating how fabrication by means of welding can be viewed as a sustainable industrial process from the point of view of productivity and safeguarding human health. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.

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