Metal Fume Fever is the name for an illness that is caused primarily by exposure to zinc oxide fume (ZnO) in the workplace.
Approximately 1500 to 2000 case of metal fume fever are reported yearly in the United States. There are probably a lot more cases than that. Some sources estimate that as many as 40 percent of welders over the age of 30 have suffered from metal fume fever at some point during their careers.
An occupational disease caused by inhalation of particles and fumes of metallic oxides and characterized by malarialike symptoms.
However, incidences have been decreasing over the last fifty years, mostly due to awareness of the importance of proper ventilation.
Cause of Metal Fume Fever
The main cause of this exposure is usually breathing the fumes from welding, cutting, or brazing on galvanized metal. Metal Fume Fever is an acute allergic condition experienced by many welders during their occupational lifetimes. Studies indicate that the most common cause of metal fume fever I overexposure to zinc fumes from welding, burning, or brazing galvanized steel.
Symptoms of Metal Fume Fever
MFF is a self-limited illness characterized by fever, chills, cough, dyspnea, headache, myalgias, and malaise, most commonly occurring within 4-12 hours of exposure to zinc, copper, or iron oxide fumes. Patients also frequently complain of a sweet or metallic taste in the mouth, irritated or dry throat, and chest pain.
- flu-like illness with a metallic taste in the mouth,
- leucocytosis (high white blood cell count)
- throat irritation, and
- dry cough;