Beryllium Exposure Studies and Testing
Beryllium is a metal used in many industries, including aerospace, defense and nuclear weapons production. Inhaling beryllium as dust or fumes from machining or manufacturing activities can cause sensitivity in some individuals that can evolve into chronic beryllium disease (CBD), formerly known as berylliosis.
CBD leads to the development of small, inflammatory nodules in the lungs called granulomas, which reduce the ability of the lungs to process gases and cause the patient to cough and experience shortness of breath. Other symptoms of CBD are chest pain, joint aches, weight loss and fever.
Workers who have been—or potentially could have been—exposed to beryllium should receive the beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test (BeLPT). The BeLPT serves as a key component to identify workers who are reacting to beryllium and who are at greater risk of developing CBD.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) manages a comprehensive program for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to assess the health effects of DOE operations on employees exposed to airborne beryllium. The program encompasses:
DOE vendor sites that are no longer operating have tens of thousands of former employees who need medical tests related to their beryllium exposure.
ORISE collects data from 25 reporting DOE sites on nearly 20,000 workers, assisting DOE in the analysis of these data focusing on predictive indicators and risk management.
The ORISE Beryllium Testing Laboratory is one of only four labs in the United States that performs the BeLPT for current and former DOE workers.
For more information, contact:
ORISE Beryllium Testing Laboratory
Toll-Free Numbers for Workers
- Beryllium Vendor Screening Program: 1.866.219.3442
- Beryllium Medical Surveillance Program: 1.866.219.3442
- College of American Pathologists renews accreditation of beryllium laboratory managed by ORAU
- Beryllium and Chronic Beryllium Disease fact sheet (PDF)
- Diagnostic Workup for Chronic Beryllium Disease fact sheet (PDF)
- Lymphocyte Proliferation Test fact sheet (PDF)
- DOE Website for Former Beryllium Workers Surveillance Program
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