RR539 - Products evolved during hot gas welding of fluoropolymers

This report details the findings of a research project which was performed as a collaboration between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and The Welding Institute (TWI). The project aim was to identify and measure the amounts of products evolved during the hot gas welding of common fluoropolymers, to attempt to identify the causative agents of polymer fume fever.

Carbonyl fluoride and/or hydrogen fluoride were detected from certain fluoropolymers when these materials were heated to their maximum welding temperatures. Significant amounts of ultrafine particles were detected from all of the fluoropolymers investigated when they were hot gas welded.

The report concludes that fluoropolymers should be hot gas welded at the lowest possible temperature to reduce the potential for causing polymer fume fever in operators. If temperature control is not sufficient to prevent episodes of polymer fume fever, a good standard of local exhaust ventilation (LEV) should also be employed.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-20