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Welding and Pacemakers

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colin hawes10/03/2021 17:18:16
557 forum posts
18 photos

Having recently been threatened with the prospect of having a pacemaker I am interested in the implications for arc welding; Has anyone had experience of this as I use mine very frequently without a second thought? Will I have to give it up or wear special protection? Colin

Jeff Dayman10/03/2021 17:31:24
2221 forum posts
47 photos

I suggest asking your surgeon and / device technologist about your specific model of device. Effects from nearby fields vary by device, and in general newer devices are much less susceptible to interference or field effects than older devices.

That said, it would be better to err on the side of caution if you get a pacemaker, and not use electric welding unless your surgeon and technologist say it is OK to do it.

Speedy Builder510/03/2021 17:40:13
2590 forum posts
207 photos

Use the welder to jump start your heart if it stops ? Alternatively what Jeff says.

Clive Foster10/03/2021 17:40:22
3103 forum posts
107 photos

Google search turns up a fair bit of information. Consensus seems to be:-

A: It is recommended you avoid using welding currents above 160 amps. Follow the safety precautions below to minimize the risk of interfering with your heart device while welding with currents under 160 amps.

Welding Safety Precautions

Limit welding to currents less than 160 amps

Work in a dry area with dry gloves and shoes

Maintain a 2-foot (60 centimeter) distance between the welding arc and heart device

Keep the welding cables close together and as far away as possible from your heart device.

Place the welding unit approximately 5 feet from the work area.

Connect the ground clamp to the metal as close to the point of welding as possible.

Arrange the work so the handle and rod will not contact the metal being welded if they are accidentally dropped.

Wait several seconds between attempts when having difficulty starting a weld

Work in an area that offers firm footing and plenty of room for movement

Work with an informed person who understands these suggestions

Immediately stop welding and step away from the area if you start feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or you believe your implantable defibrillator has delivered a shock

Since welding equipment may temporarily affct the normal operation of your heart device, any decision you make to use this equipment should be made in consultation with your heart doctor. Your doctor can advise you as to the degree of risk these responses pose for your medical condition.

Aprons or vests will not effectively shield your pacemaker or implantable defibrillator from the electromagnetic energy generated by welding equipment.

Clive

pgk pgk10/03/2021 18:07:46
2549 forum posts
293 photos

A little gallows humour.

I had a client who was an undertaker and kindly gave me a bag of 'removed' pacemakers (in the 90's). I hitched them up in turn to my ECG machine - half were dud...

pgk

Ady110/03/2021 18:13:12
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5065 forum posts
734 photos

Sounds to me like you need to give up welding

Oily Rag10/03/2021 18:29:19
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540 forum posts
184 photos

A very good friend (Farmer Hedley) of mine is a prolific welder, see my photo album for some of his Cast Iron electric gluing! However, he has been fitted with a 'smart' pacemaker which connects to the hospital via the 'Tinterweb' every few days and reports back any problems. He attended a consultation with his consultant who informed him that there were some rather surprising 'reports' back from his pacemaker which he needed to get to the bottom of as it looked like they needed to 'tune' his unit.

He asked what the problems were and they said on such and such a date they had some 'noise' on his recordings (several dates and times given). He thought about it and told the consultant "Ah, that was me welding the new gates for the local pub", "That date was when I repaired a tractor drawn implement - tricky job that!" and on and on. The consultant looked on in horror, "But your not supposed to be electric welding" Farmer Hedley explained that if he didn't weld he wouldn't eat and that could be just as fateful! He walked out of the consultation with a nice pre used floral print radiologists lead apron!

Problem fixed

Martin Connelly10/03/2021 18:35:43
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2123 forum posts
222 photos

I have a vague recollection about people with pacemakers being kept away from TIG sets with HF strike.

Martin C

mark costello 110/03/2021 18:36:33
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711 forum posts
12 photos

FIL had a tuneable pacemaker and could not be around any spark ignition, even from a medium size tractor which had the spark plugs 4 or 5' away with a hood and fire wall between Him. His pacemaker also would knock Him off of His feet when it fired. He could feel the shock coming and once in a while had time to set down even in the dirt.It was adjusted many times with no success.

noel shelley10/03/2021 18:47:53
1278 forum posts
21 photos

That lead would have much effect on a magnetic field I doubt, but to maintain 2' between the operator and the Arc would be difficult, thats arms length. Noel.

Dave Halford10/03/2021 19:00:08
2004 forum posts
23 photos

Foil waistcoat, keeps the aliens away too.

Michael Gilligan10/03/2021 20:27:28
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20057 forum posts
1040 photos

Colin

May I suggest you read this thread: **LINK**

https://www.model-engineer.co.uk/forums/postings.asp?th=153645&p=1

... and particularly that you look at the Boston document that I linked.

This is probably as good as the available guidance gets.

MichaelG.

.

P.S. __ I’m on my second pacemaker, and have read quite a lot about them, so please send me a P.M. if you think I can help in any way.

Howard Lewis10/03/2021 20:41:14
6005 forum posts
14 photos

The problem would probably be fields from eddy currents, so maybe an earthed shield of chicken wire between operator and the welding set, cables and work might be a solution?

Effectively, do the welding from outside a Faraday cage!

Howard

martin perman10/03/2021 21:21:17
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2042 forum posts
86 photos

Whhen I served my apprenticeship 50 years ago the company I worked for had three production lines and all had Wild Barfield Induction Heating machines and in the control cabinets they all had Witches Caldrons, there was a 20 foot exclusion zone around each machine for anybody with pacemakers fitted.

Martin P

Edited By martin perman on 10/03/2021 21:21:50

Edited By martin perman on 10/03/2021 21:22:32

Mike Poole10/03/2021 21:25:10
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Moderator
3302 forum posts
73 photos

I was sent to investigate our presshop travelling cranes that had recently been fitted with radio control to save having a driver sat in the cab all day long. It was reported that the cranes were moving by themselves when a rotary arc welder was in use. Despite the radio control using a dual channel system the arc welder generated enough electrical noise to set the interface relays chattering like mad. The crane driver got his job back while the designers went back to the drawing board. I doubt the old arc welders would have come anywhere near meeting current current emission regulations but cranes lifting a 20 ton die to be totally reliable. I would be wary about being in close proximity to a device like an arc welder and certainly seek reliable advice on how tolerant a pacemaker is to electrical noise. All the inverters for our medium frequency spot welding equipment carried a warning label for pacemaker users.

Mike

Howard Lewis10/03/2021 21:31:45
6005 forum posts
14 photos

Witches Caldrons?

Mercury Arc Rectifiers?

Thinking of the currents involved in Induction Heating, I could imagine some large electric fields.

When Ford were developing the anti lock braking system on the Escort, there were problems with the system behaving inconsistently and quite dangerously..

Eventually it was traced back to the test route passing beneath some 432 Kv power lines. A step in the circuit board behaved as an impedance, causing stray signals to be generated. The solution was to change the step to a taper, so that stray currents were no longer induced by the field from the high voltage power line when the car passed beneath.

Howard

martin perman10/03/2021 21:34:44
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2042 forum posts
86 photos

Howard,

Thank you, we always called them that to the point I forgot their correct names. Years ago there used to be a rumour going around that the large transmitting aerials at Daventry were causing cars fitted with the new electronic ignitions to breakdown.

Martin P

Edited By martin perman on 10/03/2021 21:38:44

Grindstone Cowboy10/03/2021 22:18:09
854 forum posts
64 photos

I don't know about arc-welders, but my father in law could feel an uncomfortable sensation from his pacemaker each time I pressed a button on my 2.4GHz wireless mini-keyboard used for controlling the TV. The wife made me revert to the normal IR remote for the duration of his visit.

Rob

SillyOldDuffer10/03/2021 22:25:16
Moderator
8469 forum posts
1885 photos

Knowing a little about how difficult it is to fully protect electronics from strong EMI, if I had a pacemaker I wouldn't risk arc welding under any circumstances even though fully applying Clive's list would indeed reduce the risk.

Electric arcs are a powerful source of electromagnetic energy, and the resulting near field is potent even though the far field isn't radiated efficiently. Putting a pacemaker within a few feet of an arc welder will severely stress the device's protective circuitry, making accidents likely.

This maker says it's ok to scuba dive down to 200', but specifically identifies arc welders and faulty electric motors as avoid hazards.

Personally I'd rather pop off doing something I enjoyed rather than safely rot slowly away in a home! Could be taking up welding will be a good alternative to taking a Swiss holiday organised by Dignitas. But not yet!

indecision

Dave

not done it yet11/03/2021 08:02:13
6719 forum posts
20 photos

As well as spurious radiation from arc welding, induction heating is also a no-no for people with pacemakers. In addition, one does not wear anything metal if close to an induction heating system. I am wondering if induction hobs give a warning re rings (on fingers) being placed on a (cold) induction hob while switched on? Or are they sufficiently protected from that sort of thing?

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