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Evaluation of a Preventive Program to Reduce Sensitization at a Beryllium Metal, Oxide, and Alloy Production Plant

Bailey, Rachel L. DO, MPH; Thomas, Carrie A. PhD; Deubner, David C. MD, MPH; Kent, Michael S. MS, CIH; Kreiss, Kathleen MD; Schuler, Christine R. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 5 - p 505-512
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181d6c338
Original Articles

Objective: We evaluated a workplace preventive program's effectiveness, which emphasized skin and respiratory protection, workplace cleanliness, and beryllium migration control in lowering beryllium sensitization.

Methods: We compared sensitization prevalence and incidence rates for workers hired before and after the program using available cross sectional and longitudinal surveillance data.

Results: Sensitization prevalence was 8.9% for the Pre-Program Group and 2.1% for the Program Group. The sensitization incidence rate was 3.7/1000 person-months for the Pre-Program Group and 1.7/1000 person-months for the Program Group. After making adjustments for potential selection and information bias, sensitization prevalence for the Pre-Program Group was 3.8 times higher (95% CI = 1.5 to 9.3) than the Program Group. The sensitization incidence rate ratio comparing the Pre-Program Group to the Program Group was 1.6 (95% CI = 0.8 to 3.6).

Conclusions: This preventive program reduced the prevalence of but did not eliminate beryllium sensitization.

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

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

Address correspondence to: Rachel L. Bailey, DO, MPH, Field Studies Branch, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, MS H2800, Morgantown, WV 26505; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine