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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31820a408a
Original Articles

Prevalence of Beryllium Sensitization Among Department of Defense Conventional Munitions Workers at Low Risk for Exposure

Mikulski, Marek A. MD, MPH; Sanderson, Wayne T. PhD; Leonard, Stephanie A. MS; Lourens, Spencer BS; Field, R. William PhD; Sprince, Nancy L. MD, MPH; Fuortes, Laurence J. MD, MS

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Abstract

Objective: To estimate the prevalence of beryllium sensitization among former and current Department of Defense workers from a conventional munitions facility.

Methods: Participants were screened by using Beryllium Lymphocyte Proliferation Test. Those sensitized were offered clinical evaluation for chronic beryllium disease.

Results: Eight (1.5%) of 524 screened workers were found sensitized to beryllium. Although the confidence interval was wide, the results suggested a possibly higher risk of sensitization among workers exposed to beryllium by occasional resurfacing of copper–2% beryllium alloy tools compared with workers with the lowest potential exposure (odds ratio = 2.6; 95% confidence interval, 0.23–29.9).

Conclusions: The findings from this study suggest that Department of Defense workers with low overall exposure to beryllium had a low prevalence of beryllium sensitization. Sensitization rates might be higher where higher beryllium exposures presumably occurred, although this study lacked sufficient power to confirm this.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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