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Anywhere from 1-10% of employees working with beryllium become sensitized. (Source: CDC)
More than half of all beryllium-sensitized employees develop chronic beryllium disease. (Source: National Jewish Health)
Approximately 62,000 employees are exposed to beryllium across the United States. (Source: OSHA)
Yes. Beryllium is incredibly toxic to humans. In a solid state, beryllium is relatively harmless. However, beryllium dust that can be inhaled or ingested can cause serious health problems such as chronic beryllium disease.
Most commonly, beryllium will cause lung diseases such as acute beryllium disease, chronic beryllium disease, and lung cancer. Studies have shown that is can also affect your liver, kidneys, heart, and nervous system. In addition, your skin can become sensitized when you’re exposed to beryllium.
The final rule was published on July 14, 2020. After revising the general industry rule, it will be effective on September 14, 2020. OSHA also revised the construction and maritime rules. The compliance dates for those is September 30, 2020.
They are 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air, as an 8-hour time-weighted average, and 2.0 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air as determined over a sampling period of 15 minutes.
OSHA’s older standards regarding beryllium were seriously outdated. More recent studies have revealed the need for lower PELs and STELs. The new permissible exposure limits are 10 times less than they used to be.
Beryllium is used as a metal, an alloy, and an oxide. In these forms, beryllium is used in high-speed aircraft, guided missiles, nuclear weapons, satellites, X-ray tubes, gyroscopes, accelerometers, non-sparking tools, and semi-conductors, to name a few.
It doesn’t apply to materials containing beryllium that aren’t being processed. It also exempts things that have less than 0.1 percent beryllium by weight. The employer must present objective data showing that beryllium levels will stay below the action level (0.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air).