published October 25, 2001Regional News
tests suggested near Brush Wellman
ELMORE - More
independent testing should be done here to get a complete picture of
beryllium exposure among residents living near the Brush Wellman
plant, a federal agency has recommended.
The suggestion was
made in a draft report, reviewed last night by Elmore-area
residents, which concluded that no beryllium levels posing a health
hazard were found in recent water or air samplings at sites near the
The samplings were collected by Brush Wellman and the
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
About 30 residents
attended a public hearing about the report at the Elmore Community
The Atlanta-based federal Agency for Toxic Substances
and Disease Registry said there are gaps in the data it analyzed.
So, it recommended that it conduct additional exposure testing by
collecting its own samples and analyzing the results.
summary, the agency stated it "cannot fully evaluate possible
environmental pathways for beryllium exposure" because of what it
called "data gaps."
The agency lacks adequate data on the
level of beryllium dust in homes near the plant and how much is
found on vehicles of Brush Wellman employees.
Nor does the
agency know how much beryllium dust travels from the plant when
there are furnace fires or mishaps involving the plantís air
pollution control equipment.
The exposure testing would
examine up to about 30 Elmore-area homes for the presence of
The agency said it can ensure that the
identities of the homeowners will not be made public.
agency will accept public comment on the draft report through Nov.
Peter Kowalski, an environmental health scientist for the
agency, said he would like to begin exposure testing in the next few
months, and would hope to have it finished by early
He said exposure testing remains a priority for the
agency, even though it has had to devote much attention to the
aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and
"This is an important site to us," Lynn Wilder,
an official with the agency said. "We have pushed back other things,
but not this."
The agency also recommends considering
biological testing, if the results of the exposure investigation
testing warrant it, Mr. Kowalski said. Such testing screens blood
samples to measure whether a personís immune system has been
sensitized to beryllium. The agency should develop health education
materials explaining exposure to the dust and chronic beryllium
disease for residents and medical professionals.
also had a series of recommendations for Brush Wellman and
w The firm should notify residents of its community
advisory panel meetings and provide newsletters about its work. It
should inform residents about results of environmental monitoring
and results of air monitoring sampling.
w The OEPA should
initiate public meetings or have other ways of exchanging
information with residents about the plant and perform additional
well water sampling of residences near the plant, and perform
ambient air monitoring for beryllium.
In 1999, The Blade
documented a 50-year pattern of misconduct by the federal government
and the beryllium industry. Among the findings: Government and
industry officials knowingly allowed workers to be exposed to unsafe
levels of beryllium dust.
The series sparked major safety
reforms. The Blade detailed how beryllium disease was emerging in a
variety of industries, including machining, recycling, and the
dental businesses. The newspaper found that many companies handling
beryllium were not following government safety rules.
1,200 people nationwide have contracted beryllium disease, a fatal
lung ailment, since the 1940s, including at least 75 present or
former workers at the Brush Wellman plant near