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Sensitization and Chronic Beryllium Disease Among Workers in Copper–Beryllium Distribution Centers

Stanton, Marcia L. BS; Henneberger, Paul K. ScD; Kent, Michael S. MS, CIH; Deubner, David C. MD; Kreiss, Kathleen MD; Schuler, Christine R. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 2 - p 204-211
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000184864.10147.bc
Original Articles

Objective: Little is known about the risk of sensitization and chronic beryllium disease (CBD) among workers performing limited processing of copper–beryllium alloys downstream of the primary beryllium industry. In this study, we performed a cross-sectional survey of employees at three copper–beryllium alloy distribution centers.

Methods: One hundred workers were invited to be tested for beryllium sensitization using the beryllium blood lymphocyte proliferation test (BeLPT); a sensitized worker was further evaluated for CBD. Available beryllium mass concentration air sampling data were obtained for characterization of airborne exposure.

Results: One participant, who had exposure to other forms of beryllium, was found to be sensitized and to have CBD, resulting in a prevalence of sensitization/CBD of 1% for all tested.

Conclusions: The overall prevalence of beryllium sensitization and CBD for workers in these three copper–beryllium alloy distribution centers is lower than for workers in primary beryllium production facilities.

From the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (Ms Stanton, Dr Henneberger, Dr Kreiss, Dr Schuler), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia; and Brush Wellman Inc. (Mr Kent, Dr Deubner), Elmore, Ohio.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Address correspondence to: Marcia L. Stanton, BS, NIOSH/DRDS/FSB, 1095 Willowdale Road, MS H2800, Morgantown, WV 26505; E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine