WT20 2% Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes
WT20 2% Thoriated Tungsten Electrodes (AWS classification EWTh-2) contain a minimum of 97.30 per cent tungsten and 1.70 to 2.20 per cent thorium and are called 2 per cent thoriated. They are the most commonly used electrodes today and are preferred for their longevity and ease of use.
Thorium, however, is a low-level radioactive hazard and many users have switched to other alternatives. Regarding the radioactivity, thorium is an alpha emitter but when it is enclosed in a tungsten matrix the risks are negligible. Thoriated tungsten should not get in contact with open cuts or wounds. The more significant danger to welders can occur when thorium oxide gets into the lungs. This can happen from the exposure to vapours during welding or from ingestion of material/dust in the grinding of the tungsten. Follow the manufacturer’s warnings, instructions, and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for its use.