Alert urges caution when working with beryllium

Washington – NIOSH in February issued an alert (.pdf file) for beryllium.

Beryllium is a highly toxic metal, and exposure to particles, fumes, mists or solutions from materials containing beryllium can lead to sensitization or chronic beryllium disease, a potentially life-threatening respiratory disease. NIOSH’s recommendations include:

For workers:

  • Control beryllium dusts, fumes and mists at the source.
  • Keep work surfaces clean.
  • Do not use cleaning methods that may cause dust to become re-suspended in air.

For employers:

  • Substitute less hazardous materials for beryllium when possible.
  • Keep airborne exposures low since a safe exposure limit has not been determined.
  • Establish and maintain a skin and respiratory protection program.

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