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Friday, June 15, 2001

Beryllium health risks targeted

Federal agency schedules open house with neighbors



ELMORE -- A federal health agency requested by Sen. Mike DeWine to investigate the dangers of beryllium at the Elmore Brush Wellman plant will note the public's concerns and comments at an open house later this month.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will compile information from residents as it prepares a "health consultation" about Brush Wellman, according to a press release issued Thursday.

The open house session is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. June 27 in the Elmore Community Center. Community members are being asked to stop by and talk to ATSDR staff one-on-one about possible health concerns.

"The health consultation is about Brush Wellman, and it analyzes and gives response to the public health issues that may be associated with the site," said Donna Garland, a ATSDR spokeswoman.

DeWine asked the agency to investigate the Elmore plant to see if emissions from the plan and beryllium particles that were carried off the site on workers' clothes posed a health risk to the community, the release showed.

Most requests for a consultation comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state and local health departments, the release showed.

The Brush Wellman Inc. factory in Elmore manufactures products with beryllium, a lightweight metal used in the defense, automotive and electronics industries.

Its dust can cause a fatal lung disease.

Brush Wellman officials could not be reached for comment this morning.