ELMORE, Ohio (AP) --
An environmental group said it found a material linked to a
fatal lung disease in the cars and homes of some Brush Wellman
workers, putting families at risk.
Ohio Citizen Action said Thursday it found dust
from the metal in the homes and cars of six current and former
Brush Wellman employees. The group also said the metal was
found on the car of a resident who lives near the plant in
this city 20 miles southeast of Toledo.
Brush Wellman processes beryllium, long used in nuclear
In a statement, Brush Wellman denied the allegations and
said it works to make sure beryllium stays on site by making
employees shower and change out of their company uniforms
before going home.
``Ohio Citizen Action has a history of this kind of
sensational fear-mongering which does a great disservice to
the community,'' the statement said.
The Rev. Keith Davis, who lives near the plant, said he was
surprised beryllium was found on the hood of his car. He said
no one has explained his health risks.
``It's hard to describe my feelings when all the time we'd
been assured there was nothing to fear,'' he said. ``I feel
they should go out to the other people around. Perhaps there
is a danger and we're not aware of it.''
Ohio Citizen Action wants an independent study of workers'
and residents' homes and cars to determine how much beryllium
has gotten off the site. It also said Brush Wellman should pay
for medical testing of residents and workers' families.
Ohio Citizen Action said that while there are safety
standards for the chemical found in the air, there are none
for beryllium found in dust form.
``Anything over zero is a potential health risk. It could
have been in the air at higher levels at one time,'' said
Sarah Ogdahl, Toledo area program director for Ohio Citizen
One of the highest levels found in this study was 3.2
micrograms per 0.335 square feet, found in a worker's car. In
the air, the U.S. Department of Energy had a standard of 2
micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air. The department
has admitted, however, that it wasn't sure exactly what level
Brush Wellman said beryllium in the air is normally 10 to
100 times lower than the Environmental Protection Agency
standard of 0.01 micrograms per cubic meter.