Resources for dental professionals:
Beryllium in the dental industry

You don’t have to be a beryllium worker to get beryllium disease.

Anybody exposed to beryllium dust or fumes can get it. Some contract workers at beryllium plants, automotive manufacture workers and dental lab technicians have developed beryllium disease.

All dental professionals exposed to beryllium dust or fumes, especially lab technicians, can get this disease. The best way to eliminate the risk is to stop using beryllium.

The following resources may help you decide whether you or your staff are in danger of beryllium disease.

What is the problem?

Working with beryllium or beryllium alloys can create toxic dust and fumes. 2% beryllium alloys are toxic and a threat to your health. Brief or small exposures can lead to beryllium disease. You can get chronic beryllium disease if you have ground, sawed or polished beryllium or beryllium alloys, been in a room where beryllium or beryllium alloys are ground, sawed, or polished, had contact with someone who has handled beryllium and may have dust on their clothes.

Beryllium disease is often fatal and there is no cure.

For more than 50 years government health officials and industry leaders have known that the safety standards for beryllium are inadequate. On September 2, 1999, OSHA issued a hazardous information bulletin to warn all workers that their current safety standards may not protect their health:

Inhaling beryllium dust or fumes may cause serious, chronic lung disease among exposed workers; this lung disease can be fatal. Beryllium can also cause lung cancer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently obtained information suggesting that OSHA’s current 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium in the workplace may not be adequate to prevent the occurrence of chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a disabling and often fatal lung disease, among exposed workers.

The symptoms for beryllium disease may include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss and/or loss of appetite, fevers, and night sweats. Some workers have become sick shortly after exposure, however the latency period for the disease can be up to 30 years.

Your doctor can administer a blood test which can determine if you have been exposed to beryllium and if you are in danger of developing beryllium disease.

You can help us understand the scope of the problem by completing a short survey. Thanks.

If you have any questions, please ask Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action, (216) 861-5200.