Inhaling fumes from welding galvanized steel can result in an inhalation fever syndrome called metal fume fever, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Symptoms of metal fume fever include chest tightness, wheezing, cough, flu-like symptoms and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Metal fume fever is most commonly caused by the inhalation of zinc oxide, according to NCBI. The welding process of galvanized steel, consisting of welders cutting and joining metal parts using extreme heat, produces zinc oxide fumes and dust. Pouring metal in brass foundries can also produce zinc oxide fumes or dust, since brass is an alloy of zinc and copper, reports Haz-Map.
In addition to flu-like symptoms, individuals with metal fume fever often have a high white blood cell count, also known as leukocytosis, according to Haz-Map. The symptoms of metal fume fever generally begin between three and 10 hours after exposure to the zinc oxide. Symptoms resolve spontaneously within 48 hours.
There is no specific treatment for metal fume fever, so the symptoms are treated, according to NCBI. Prevention, by avoiding additional exposure to zinc oxide fumes and dust, is the key to managing metal fume fever. An individual that has experienced metal fume fever may have a tolerance to the syndrome for a day or two afterward, according to Haz-Map.