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Employees of former beryllium-producing facilities offered free screening

Screening part of health check provided by U.S. Department of Energy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 14, 2017

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Former employees of several closed beryllium-producing facilities around southeast Michigan can now learn if their health has been impacted by their work.

Through a free beryllium screening program offered by the U.S. Department of Energy, employees who worked at any of the two facilities in Detroit or one in Adrian can now be tested to see if they have become sensitized to beryllium, which could be an early indicator of chronic beryllium disease, formerly known as berylliosis.

Beryllium is a metal used in many industries, including nuclear weapons production, that can prove harmful to workers when inhaled as dust or fumes from machining or manufacturing activities. Chronic beryllium disease can lead to the development of small, inflammatory nodules in the lungs called granulomas that reduce the ability of the lungs to function and cause coughing and shortness of breath.

The following facilities are included:

Gerity-Michigan Corporation, Adrian*
Time period: 1949-1950s
Number of employees: 40

* Note: Employees of Bridgeport Brass Co, also in Adrian, are eligible for a similar program if they were employed from 1954-1962 or during the DOE remediation work performed in 1995. To learn more, they can contact 1-866-812-6703.

Revere Copper and Brass, Detroit
Time period: 1946-1950
Number of employees: 1,000

Wolverine Tube Division, Detroit
Time period: 1943-1946
Number of employees: 1,000

Workers who have been—or potentially could have been—exposed to beryllium while employed at these facilities should receive the beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test. This test serves as a key diagnostic tool to identify workers who are sensitized to beryllium and who may be at greater risk of developing chronic beryllium disease.

DOE made this beryllium screening program available to former employees at these now-closed beryllium vendors to ensure that workers who no longer have an employer to turn to for this testing could receive this important screening. In a simple process, the worker’s blood is drawn at a local doctor’s office and sent to a certified lab. DOE pays for the cost. Former employees interested in this medical screening should contact the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which is managing this program for DOE, at 1-866-219-3442 (toll free). These employees are being asked to share this information with others who also were employed at these facilities.

Any former employee whose test shows abnormal results will be referred for free additional medical monitoring and possibly compensation through the U.S. Department of Labor under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Director, Communications
Work: 865.576.3146
Cell: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
Manager, Communications
Work: 865.576.0028
Cell: 865.207.7953