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Published on Jan 10, 2014
Beryllium is a chemical element with the symbol Be and atomic number 4. It is extremely lightweight and hard, is a good conductor of electricity and heat, and is nonmagnetic. These properties make beryllium suitable for many industrial uses.
Exposure to this element can happen when a person breathes in beryllium mists, dusts or fumes, which can cause damage to the lungs. Beryllium-related granulomas can also develop in other body tissues.
Machinists, welders and equipment operators may be exposed through direct handling of beryllium and beryllium compounds. Other workers may be exposed by performing laboratory analyses on beryllium compounds, coming into contact with contaminated equipment or by working near a beryllium operation.
Beryllium disease is caused primarily by breathing contaminated air. Both acute and chronic health problems can occur.
The acute disease starts soon after exposure and resembles pneumonia or bronchitis. It typically requires relatively high levels of exposure to occur.
The chronic form of the condition, known as Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD), may occur from several months to decades after exposure. CBD can occur after much lower levels of exposure than the acute form of beryllium disease. In CBD, inflammation and scarring of the lungs make it more difficult for the lungs to get oxygen to the bloodstream and body. CBD can be either mild or severe. The amount of exposure necessary to cause an individual to develop CBD is uncertain.
Beryllium has been identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program as a human carcinogen. Persons exposed to beryllium are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
These are just a few things to know about beryllium and CBD, to learn more about this or other health and safety, occupational, indoor air quality or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.