As said above welding fumes of any kind aren't much fun. Steel is ok, zinc galvanize fumes aren't toxic - no long term health risk - but breating the fumes will cause the "galvanize fever" - a few hours after breathing them you sill swear you have the flu! Goes away over night. Cadmium plating is another story. It will do permanent damage so be very careful if it. Best bet is to do as advised above and clean any coating off the steel well clear of the heat affected zone and you won't have any problems. Also, if you leave the coatings, they will pollute the weld and the joint will be significantly weakened. Also, use a fan to keep fresh air circulated into your environment reqardless of what you are welding. Can get a great box fan @ Walmart for about $20.
One thing you can check is whether it is alloy steel or mild steel. Grinding sparks for mild steel are red balls whereas alloy steel gives off bright red or white star shaped sparks. The latter must be welded the heat treated or will be brittle and prone to crack.
[ March 05, 2003: Message edited by: [email protected]