| Article published Monday, July 14, 2003|
U.S. plans beryllium sampling in
Agency will outline testing
ELMORE - A federal health agency seeking data
on the level of beryllium dust in homes near the Brush Wellman plant
and in vehicles of employees plans to collect samples in the area
later this year.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
will meet with residents from 6:30 to 8:30 tonight at the Elmore
Community Center, 410 Clinton St., to outline how the samples will
Two years ago, the agency cited the need for
further investigation after tests concluded that no beryllium levels
posing a health hazard were in recent water or air samplings near
But the agency said it could not fully evaluate
possible environmental pathways for beryllium exposure away from the
plant because of what it called "data gaps" in a study by the Ohio
Environmental Protection Agency and by the company.
is a strong, lightweight metal used in the defense, automotive, and
electronics industries. Beryllium dust can cause chronic and
sometimes fatal lung disease for those who inhale it. More than
1,200 people nationwide, including former and current Brush Wellman
employees, have contracted beryllium disease since the
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
The series sparked major safety reforms. The Blade
detailed how beryllium disease is emerging in a variety of
industries, including machining, recycling, and the dental
Peter Kowalski, an environmental health
specialist at the agency’s Atlanta headquarters, said in a telephone
interview Friday the new study will be focused on the level of
exposure that may be caused by beryllium dust that left the plant on
workers’ clothing, and on dust from past emissions.
meeting will discuss the exposure investigation and outline the
method of collecting random samples. To help interpret the data, a
separate sampling will be conducted in 25 homes in a community about
50 miles upwind, Mr. Kowalski said.
The sampling in Elmore, a
village of 1,426 people about 18 miles southeast of Toledo, could
begin later this year, once a public comment period is completed
Aug. 15. Consent of homeowners will be required for voluntary
Crews of two to three people will visit homes,
spending about two hours interviewing the residents and taking
samples to test for beryllium dust. The project is expected to take
several weeks, Mr. Kowalski said.
"We can collect samples in
every home because of the logistics," Mr. Kowalski said, adding that
the agency wants to sample most homes adjacent to the
Loretta Bush, health communications specialist for the
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said the cost of
the project has not been determined. The cost will depend on the
number of surveyors needed and the number of volunteers for the
"We really can’t put a number on the cost yet," she
Reports to homeowners with individual results and to
the community at large won’t go out until three to six months after
the sampling is completed.