The kinetics of iron, chromium, nickel, and cobalt from manual metal arc and metal inert gas stainless steel welding fumes were studied. Neutron activated welding fumes, in aqueous suspensions, were instilled intratracheally into rats. The follow up continued for up to 106 days. From both fumes, approximately 10% of the injection bolus was immediately lost into the gastrointestinal tract, to be recovered in the faeces within three days. Thereafter, a pronounced difference was seen in the kinetics of the two types of fumes. After the first day, chromium, nickel, and iron were lost from the lungs with half times of about 53, 49, and 73 days after exposure to MMA/SS fumes, whereas practically no loss could be seen in the metal components of the metal inert gas welding fumes within two months. The disposition of chromium from MMA/SS fumes closely resembled that of intratracheally instilled water soluble chromates. On the other hand, the disappearance of trivalent chromium from MIS/SS fumes was considerably slower than that of the practically water insoluble chromates, or even of trivalent chromium salts. Thus the physical characteristics of the fume appreciably affect the kinetics of the clearance of chromium compounds from the lungs.
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