Beryllium Health Effects

What are the different beryllium health effects?

Beryllium is an alloy agent in the manufacture of beryllium-copper. Because it is a good electrical and thermal conductor, beryllium is used in many applications and industries. With its strength and hardness, and dimensional stability over a wide range of temperature of beryllium-copper alloys, beryllium is used in nuclear and aerospace industries. It is also used in the laboratory and diagnostics applications.

Before 1951, beryllium was widely used in the production of fluorescent light bulbs although this stopped after reports of many workers who got sick from beryllium sensitization and exposure.

Two agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are directly working on implementing restrictions and limits for beryllium exposure. EPA has set the restrictions in the amount of beryllium to be released by many industries into the air outside. The OSHA, on the other hand, restricts the amount of beryllium that can be released into the workplace. The standards set are strictly implemented and followed by various industries using beryllium and beryllium-related materials. In the same way, the workers are protected against fatal occupational hazards such as beryllium.

The sad news is while OSHA pushes on stricter safety measures, the Federal regulators are delaying much-waited health and safety rules that will save many workers from beryllium health risks. Read OSHA Rule To Protect Workers In Construction, Manufacturing Plagued By Delays

Beryllium sensitization and CBD were diagnosed among workers in which exposure to beryllium air levels exceeded 0.2 μ/m3. Inhalation of this toxic material more than the allowed limit of exposure can cause a number of beryllium health effects such as acute beryllium and chronic beryllium diseases, contact dermatitis and cancer.

Acute beryllium disease

This disease can be compared to pneumonia. It is caused by high exposure to high levels of beryllium for a short period only. The short onset is usually accompanied with coughing, breathing difficulty and weight loss. Thanks to the government restrictions on the amount of beryllium exposure, acute beryllium disease is now rare.

Chronic beryllium disease

The most common health problem related to beryllium sensitization or exposure is CBD when an individual is exposed to higher than the normal limit of beryllium in workplace. Fatigue, weakness, night sweats, breathing difficulty and dry cough are common symptoms of CBD. In severe case, CBD can result to anorexia and weight loss. It can also lead to hear diseases. Although there is no cure to CBD, it can be treated to avoid any complications and death.

Contact dermatitis

Skin that has been cut or scraped can cause rashes, ulcers or bumps under the skin when beryllium dusts or powder gets into it.


Beryllium and beryllium compounds are considered carcinogenic. Prolonged exposure to beryllium can lead to lung cancer.