If you're going to be working with tungsten carbide, and you're allergic to nickel, you'll need to take special safety precautions. That's because tungsten carbide often contains trace levels of nickel. It may also contain chromium. Even if you don't have specific allergies to these metals, you should still take precautions, since the dust can trigger asthma attacks, and may lead to other breathing difficulties. Before you begin work, here are four safety precautions you should plan to implement:
Work in a Well-Ventilated Space
When you're working with tungsten carbide, it's important to remember that it can leave behind small particles of dust that can get in the air. Before you start working, be sure you're in a well-ventilated space. This will help rid the air of harmful dust. This is particularly important if you're going to be grinding, brazing, or sharpening the tungsten. If you don't have an appropriate ventilation system where you'll be working, be sure to open the doors and windows. This will create a cross-breeze that will help clear the air.
Always Wear Proper Safety Gear
When working with tungsten carbide, always wear proper safety gear, especially if you're allergic to nickel. Exposure to any amount of nickel can lead to serious breathing problems when you're allergic to it. Your safety gear should include protective coveralls, goggles, dust and mist-grade ventilator mask, and protective gloves. Never begin work until you're wearing all your safety gear.
Wash Your Hands and Face Thoroughly
Tungsten carbide dust particles can get on any part of your exposed skin. Once it's on your skin, it can transfer to other areas of your body, including your eyes, nose, and mouth. That's why it's important that you wash your hands and face as soon as you're done working, especially before you eat. Washing your hands and face will prevent the dust from causing irritation to your mucus membrane areas – eyes, nose, and mouth. It's also a good idea to wash your hands prior to using the restroom facilities. This will prevent the tungsten dust from being transferred to your genitalia.
Use HEPA Filters for Cleanup
Finally, when cleaning up at the end of the day, be sure to use industrial vacuum cleaners that are equipped with HEPA filters. HEPA filters are able to gather all the small particulate matter and prevent it from being released back into the air. It's also a good idea to wipe down your work surfaces with a damp cloth. This will ensure that all the dust is removed from your work area.
Contact a tungsten supplier for more information and assistance.