Beryllium Exposure Testing

Health effects assessed for DOE employees exposed to airborne beryllium

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education maintains a comprehensive beryllium exposure studies and testing program for the U.S. Department of Energy that assesses the health effects to workers who have been exposed to airborne beryllium (.PDF, 1.4 MB).

Beryllium is used in many industries, including aerospace, defense and nuclear weapons production. During manufacturing activities, workers may have inhaled beryllium as dust or fumes, and some individuals may have become sensitized. This sensitization can be an early indicator of chronic beryllium disease, formerly known as berylliosis.

Chronic beryllium disease leads to the development of small, inflammatory nodules in the lungs. These nodules, called granulomas, cause the patient to cough and experience shortness of breath. Chest pains, joint aches, weight loss and fever are other symptoms.

Learn more about the ORISE beryllium testing program: