Sparks will fly, but the particulate generated by the vapourization of metal may be harmful to your health. These metal vapours quickly condense, oxidize and form feathery aggregate particles that can be inhaled when not wearing appropriate respiratory protection.
Welders use many different names when referring to this type of metal: alloy steel, mangalloy steel, mixed steel, inox steel, austenitic stainless steel and may call it coated steel or even galvanized steel (although galvanized steel is covered with zinc oxide where stainless is mixed with chromium to prevent rusting, for example).
Stainless steel is used in a multitude of different applications in everything from housewares to larger welded items like cars, oil and gas platforms, ships, bridges or water and sewage piping. The hazard to a welder is the fume generated when welding (some of which is visible to the naked eye, and some is not). Two of the most common fume exposures while welding on stainless steel are manganese and hexavalent chromium. Studies estimate that there is a 30 to 40 percent increased risk of some forms of cancer to welders.*
Manganese is a common metal used in steel to help promote hardness. Over exposure to manganese while welding may lead to Parkinson’s-like symptoms that may include:
Hexavalent Chromium is found in many steel welding electrodes and wires. The welding processes using flux shielding produce a higher ratio of Hexavalent Chromium (Cr+6). Over exposure to this type of Chromium may result in: