What is beryllium?
Beryllium is characterized by being brittle and steel-gray metal which is part of some rock, oil, coal, volcanic dust, minerals, and soil. Since beryllium is light metal and very stiff in its elemental form, it has a number of applications in the nuclear, aerospace, and manufacturing industries.
How is beryllium emitted into the environment?
Beryllium dust goes into the air by the burning coal and oil, and gradually sets in the land and water. Beryllium can get into the water through erosion of soil and rocks, and from industrial wastes.
How can beryllium exposure happen?
Exposure to beryllium will vary among the different parts of the population. The overall population is exposed to normal low level of beryllium which is found in air, foods, and water. Workers in industries where beryllium is mined, processed, or transformed into metal, alloys, and other chemicals, have high chances of beryllium exposure. People residing close to these industries or close to uncontrolled hazardous waste sites may also be exposed to higher than the normal beryllium levels.
What are the effects of beryllium exposure?
It will affect the human health and it will depend on the amount and length of exposure to beryllium. Beryllium can be detrimental if you breathe it. If beryllium air levels are very high, breathing it may lead to acute health condition called acute beryllium illness which is similar to pneumonia. Those who become sensitive to beryllium, known as beryllium sensitization may progress to an allergic reaction called Chronic Beryllium Disease or CBD which is characterized by the swelling or inflammation of the respiratory system. With CBD, you may experience fatigue, weakness, difficulty in breathing, anorexia, weight loss, and may still advance when there will be the enlargement of the right side of the heart and other heart illnesses.
Can beryllium cause cancer?
Long exposure to beryllium can increase the chances of developing lung cancer. The Department of Health and Human Services or DHHS and the International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC identified that beryllium is a human carcinogen which is cancer-causing matter.
What will happen if beryllium comes into contact with the skin?
Beryllium contact with the skin with cut can cause rashes or ulcers.
Is swallowing beryllium dangerous?
There were no reports about ill effects to human health if you have swallowed beryllium because small beryllium is absorbed through the stomach and intestines.
How can I protect my family against beryllium exposure?
Most of the families are not subjected to high levels of beryllium. However, it is not safe and therefore the children must avoid playing in soils close to uncontrolled detrimental waste sites where beryllium may have been trashed.
Are children at greater risks of developing health problems than adults who are exposed to beryllium?
Please take note that there are no reliable studies conducted regarding the effects of children from beryllium exposure. However, it is expected that side effects may be similar to the side effects of adults. It is still unclear whether beryllium exposure can result to birth defects and other developmental effects. The studies using animals are not yet conclusive.
Are there any medical tests to determine if I have been subjected to beryllium?
Beryllium can be assessed through urine and blood. But the amount of beryllium present in the urine and blood may not be the precise amount of how recently you were exposed. Beryllium levels can also be assessed in the lungs and skin. The blood beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test or BeLPT is another blood test that determines the beryllium sensitization and has the capacity to predict the value for CBD.
What are the federal government standards regarding the maximum beryllium levels in the air?
The EPA limits the amount of beryllium that industries will adhere to. They may release up to 0.01 ug/m3 averaged within a 30-day period. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA established a limit of 2ug/m of the workplace air for an 8-hour work schedule.
What should I do if I think I have been injured as a result of beryllium exposure?
If you or any of your family are suffering from any symptoms or have developed medical conditions relating to beryllium exposure, you must seek for immediate medical attention. If in cases, you may have been exposed to high levels of beryllium in your workplace without sufficient protection or in violation of the government standards, we have the finest and the best experienced lawyers to discuss about your case, your alternatives and to protect your rights to a legal solution for your injuries.