Objective: Beryllium mine and ore extraction mill workers have low rates of beryllium sensitization and chronic beryllium disease relative to the level of beryllium exposure. The objective was to relate these rates to the solubility and composition of the mine and mill materials.
Method: Medical surveillance and exposure data were summarized. Dissolution of BeO, ore materials and beryllium hydroxide, Be(OH)2 was measured in synthetic lung fluid.
Result: The ore materials were more soluble than BeO at pH 7.2 and similar at pH 4.5. Be(OH)2 was more soluble than BeO at both pH. Aluminum dissolved along with beryllium from ore materials.
Conclusion: Higher solubility of beryllium ore materials and Be(OH)2 at pH 7.2 might shorten particle longevity in the lung. The aluminum content of the ore materials might inhibit the cellular immune response to beryllium.