Portable Vacuum Fume Collector without HEPA filtration

A portable vacuum fume collector without HEPA filtration is a local exhaust ventilation unit that captures contaminates near the source.


A portable vacuum fume collector without HEPA filtration is an engineering control that can reduce exposure to welding fumes, particles and dusts. Portable vacuum fume collectors use a motor and fan to draw air and contaminants from the point of generation, through a flexible arm or duct and into the unit. The fumes and particles are then collected on a filter or exhausted away from the work area, reducing the concentration in the worker's breathing zone.  Some units have the option of HEPA, high efficiency particulate air, filters for use during tasks with greater health hazards.

A welding fume capture and control system may be necessary to meet occupational exposure limits and is most commonly used in the form of a vacuum fume collector. These collectors use a filter or exhaust air to the outdoors to remove most hazardous fumes that result from welding.
Portable welding fume control systems are solutions that also address the constant mobility of welders on construction sites. A welding ventilation bench hood is the safest way to remove the hazardous fumes, but the portable fume extractors provide a solution for the cases where semi-permanent fume hoods are not applicable.
Lincoln Electric X-Tractor 1 Fume Gun

(Photo courtesy of The Lincoln Electric Company)
  • Used for portable welding fume extraction with filtration for Stick, MIG, TIG, and Flux-Cored welding in an enclosed space
  • Power Requirements: 120 volts, 15 amps or 220 volts, 9 amps
  • Net Weight: 37 pounds
  • Air Flow Rate: 55 - 115 cubic feet per minute
  • Air Speed: 4,000 - 5,000 feet per min
  • Proximity to Fume Source: 2-4 inches
  • Sound Pressure Level: 74 A-weighted decibels (dBA) (90 dBA is OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limit for an 8-hour time-weighted average)
Lincoln Electric Prism® Direct Exhaust Fan Mobiflex®100-NF Portable Welding Fume Extractor (115V)

(Photo courtesy of The Lincoln Electric Company)
  • Used for portable welding exhaust for Stick, MIG, TIG, and Flux-Cored welding in an enclosed space
  • Power Requirements: 115 volts, 10 amps
  • Net Weight: 37.5 pounds
  • Air Flow Rate: up to 765 cubic feet per minute
  • Maximum Reach Distance: 32 feet
  • Sound Pressure Level: 69 A-weighted decibels (dBA) (90 dBA is OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limit for an 8-hour time-weighted average) 
Enviroflex Enviromac MAC 1 and MAC 2


(Photo courtesy of Enviroflex International, Inc. pending)
  • Used for mobile welding fume extraction with filtration for welding in an enclosed space
  • Power Requirements: 120 volts, 15 - 20 amps
  • Net Weight: 290 pounds (with arm)
  • Air Flow Rate: up to 1,050-1,400 cubic feet per minute (with arm)
  • Maximum Reach Distance: 10 feet
  • Sound pressure level: not available (90 dBA is OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limit for an 8-hour time-weighted average)
RoboVent VentBoss G121

(Photo courtesy of 
RoboVent Products Group, Inc., https://robovent.com/equipment/ventboss-series/)
  • Used for portable welding fume extraction with filtration for welding in an enclosed space
  • Nanofiber Merv 15
  • Power Requirements: 110 volts
  • Configures into a single fume arm, dual fume arm
  • Air Flow Rate: up to 1,200 cubic feet per minute (with arm)
  • Sound pressure level: 76 dBA (90 dBA is OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limit for an 8-hour time-weighted average)

Risks Addressed:

Welding generates fumes that can expose workers to manganese, iron, nickel, hexavalent chromium, and other elements found in the base metal, filler rod and coatings. These metals have relatively low occupational exposure limits and exposure can lead to serious health effects including lung cancer, Parkinson-like symptoms known as “manganism,” and neurological effects.
Occupational Exposure Limits for Fumes Associated with Welding
ACGIH TLV (mg/m3)
NIOSH REL (mg/m3)
5 (as ceiling)
Hexavalent chromium
0.1 (insoluble)
Iron oxide
5 (respirable)
Exposure to welding fumes from mild steel is associated with the development of a benign pneumoconiosis, "arc welder's siderosis."  This condition is a reversible pneumoconiosis and no associated respiratory signs may be present at the time the pneumoconiosis is discovered (Rom, 1992).
Employees exposed to Cr(VI) face an increased risk of significant health effects. The health effects cited by OSHA that are associated with Cr(VI) include lung cancer, asthma, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations (“chrome holes”), and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.
Recent studies indicate neurological and neurobehavioral deficits may occur when workers are exposed to low levels of manganese (<0.2 mg/m3) in welding fumes. These effects include changes in mood and short-term memory, altered reaction time, and reduced hand-eye coordination.
In the Construction Industry, OSHA states that welding, cutting or heating performed in an enclosed space on metal coated with lead-bearing paint requires employers to: (a) provide local exhaust ventilation or protect employees with airline respirators, and (b) ensure that the paint is stripped back at least 4 inches from the area of heat application or protect the employees with airline respirators.


How Risks are Reduced:

Portable fume extractors are used mainly for source capture of welding fumes. Different filter combinations can make the extractor unit very versatile and cost effective for the job required. The fumes are then either filtered through high efficiency, disposable, or other filters, or exhausted to the outdoor environment away from workers. Welding fumes are only hazardous if inhaled and are not hazardous for skin contact. As long as the fumes are removed immediately, the hazard is reduced.

Using fume collectors will visibly remove particulate matter, but the extent that it reduces the small, respirable particles is significant. Although exposure is not reduced to zero, substantial reduction is documented. This is dependent on the amount of air flow through the machine, the distance welding occurs from the machine inlet, how effectively it filters particles in the air, the nature and amount of work and the extent to which workers are exposed to particles that are not captured. While there is little published sampling data on these specific tools, evidence indicates exposure to respirable metal particles can be significantly reduced through the use of fume extraction methods.
Welding fume metal exposures were highly variable among similar types of welding while NO2 and O3 exposures were less variable. Welding fume metal exposures were significantly higher, 474 μg/m3, for production welders than non-welders, 60 μg/m3 (p=0.001). Welders were exposed to higher concentrations of NO2 and O3 than non-welders but the differences were not statistically significant (Schoonover, 2010).

However, in a different report focusing more on the use of portable fume extractors, the breathing zone concentration of manganese was 22.16 +/- 20.90 μg/m3 which was reduced to 8.25 +/- 4.5 μg/m3 after application of a portable local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system, showing about 63% removal of the manganese concentration from the breathing zone of the welder. In another experiment conducted with a mobile LEV unit for heavy-duty work, the concentration of manganese in the breathing zone without operating the mobile LEV was 70.06 +/- 37.38 μg/m3 but was lowered to 8.29 +/- 1.76 μg/m3 after operating the mobile LEV. This indicated an average removal of manganese content by about 88% from the breathing zone of the welder. In both experiments the locations of sample collection were similar (Zaidi, 2004).


Effects on Productivity:

Vacuum fume collectors can have either positive or negative effects on productivity, but definitely improve the quality of the work by removing large amounts of welding fume, which allows for a cleaner environment for operators.  In some cases, particularly where work is intermittent or in an area with general ventilation, use of fume collectors may reduce the need to wear a respirator, and for an employer to develop a respiratory protection program.  In areas where welding may occur far above the ground, providing a fume collector may be difficult, which can decrease productivity.

Additional Considerations:

There are additional conditions and practices that can improve the performance of fume collectors and reduce fume exposure:  

  • Keeping your head out of the fume plume and using adequate ventilation is key to controlling exposure to hazardous materials in the welding fumes and gases.
As is the case with any construction equipment, users should follow manufacturer safety recommendations and comply with any applicable local, state or federal regulations.
OSHA, under 1926.353(a)(3), requires that local exhaust ventilation for welding consists of “freely movable hoods intended to be placed by the welder or burner as close as practicable to the work. This system shall be of sufficient capacity and so arranged as to remove fumes and smoke at the source and keep the concentration of them in the breathing zone within safe limits”, which are found in Subpart D. OSHA, under 1926.353(a)(4), does not require that the exhaust air be filtered: “Contaminated air exhausted from a working space shall be discharged into the open air or otherwise clear of the source of intake air.”
OSHA’s new hexavalent chromium standard requires under 1926.1126(e)(1) that “the employer shall use engineering and work practice controls to reduce and maintain employee exposure to chromium (VI) to or below the PEL unless the employer can demonstrate that such controls are not feasible.” This means that welding or cutting where hexavalent chromium is present should include local exhaust ventilation.

Hazards Addressed:

  • Structural Steel


Enviroflex International, Inc.
To obtain information, visit ENVIROMACâ„¢ MAC 1 and MAC 2 or contact 1-877-368-3539 info@enviroflex.com

RoboVent Products Group, Inc.
To obtain information, visit VentBoss series or contact 1-855-432-1256

The Lincoln Electric Company
To obtain information, visit X Tractor 1 Fume Gun and Prism® Direct Exhaust Fan or contact 1-216-481-8100 weldfumecontrol@lincolnelectric.com

Return on Investment

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