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

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Former employees of several closed beryllium-producing facilities located in eastern Pennsylvania and near Pittsburgh 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, the approximately 2,000 employees who worked at any of the six plants listed below 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. 

Former workers who were employees at these facilitates during the listed time periods are included:

Aeroprojects, Inc., West Chester
Time period: 1951-1973

Beryllium Corporation of America, Hazelton & Reading
Time period: Hazelton (1957- 1979); Reading (1943 - present)

Foote Mineral Company, East Whiteland Township
Time period: 1947

McDanel Refractory Company, Beaver Falls
Time period: 1942-1949

Nuclear Material and Equipment Corporation, Apollo
Time period: 1960-1968

Vitro Manufacturing, Canonsburg
Time period: 1948 

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.

ORISE is a U.S. Department of Energy institute focusing on scientific initiatives to research health risks from occupational hazards, assess environmental cleanup, respond to radiation medical emergencies, support national security and emergency preparedness, and educate the next generation of scientists. ORISE is managed by ORAU.

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Director, Communications
Office: 865.576.3146
Phone: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
Manager, Communications
Office: 865.576.0028
Phone: 865.207.7953

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a world-class DOE institute designed to strengthen a scientific workforce; promote the integrity of scientific research through peer review; provide 24/7 medical response to radiation accidents; evaluate human health data to protect workers from occupational hazards; and conduct independent environmental cleanup assessments.