The dissolution of stainless steel welding fumes produced by manual metal arc (MMA) and metal inert gas (MIG) techniques was studied by transmission electron microscopy and quantitative x ray microanalysis in the lungs of rats after inhalation exposure. Rats exposed to stainless steel fumes generated by MMA were found to have two particle populations of different behaviour in their lung tissue. The particles of the principal population (size 100-250 nm) dissolved in both alveolar macrophages and type 1 epithelial cells in about two months. Fast and slowly dissolving components of chromium, manganese, and iron were detected within these particles; they obviously represent different chemical compounds. The particles of the minor population (size 5-100 nm) showed no signs of dissolution during three months follow up. Rats exposed to stainless steel fumes generated by MIG had only one particle population in their lung tissue; they were similar to those of the minor population in the MMA/SS fumes and no solubility could be detected within three months.
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