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OSHA – Beryllium

Beryllium, atomic number 4, is a brittle, steel-gray metal found as a component of coal, oil, certain rock minerals, volcanic dust, and soil. Elemental beryllium is the second lightest of all metals and is used in a wide variety of applications. In its elemental form beryllium exhibits the unique properties of being light weight and extremely stiff, giving the metal several applications in the aerospace, nuclear, and manufacturing industries. In addition, beryllium is amazingly versatile as a metal alloy where it is used in dental appliances, golf clubs, non-sparking tools, wheel chairs, and electronic devices.

Beryllium Standards

Exposures to beryllium are addressed in specific standards for general industry. This page highlights requirements related to beryllium, including OSHA standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), the Unified Agenda (a list of actions being taken with regard to OSHA standards) and other agency standards.

Beryllium - Hazard Recognition

About 1-15% of all people occupationally-exposed to beryllium in air become sensitive to beryllium and may develop chronic beryllium disease (CBD), an irreversible and sometimes fatal scarring of the lungs. Occupational exposure most often occurs in mining, extraction, and in the processing of alloy metals containing beryllium. The adverse health effects of beryllium exposure are caused by the body's immune system reacting with the metal, resulting in an allergic-type response. The following references aid in recognizing hazards and health effects associated with beryllium.

Beryllium - Exposure Evaluation

Air, wipe, and bulk sampling techniques are used to measure occupational exposures to beryllium. The following references provide exposure limits and analytical methods used to evaluate beryllium hazards in the workplace.


·         National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG), (1997, June). Offers general information including exposure limits, measurement methods, and respirator recommendations.

·         National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH), (1996, August). Contains acute toxicity data, NIOSH recommendations, and references.

OSHA Methods

·         Sampling and Analytical Methods. Provides links to information developed by OSHA including validated methods for use by the Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) Laboratory. These standard methods have been adopted by many laboratories for the analysis of chemical compounds.

o    Metal and Metalloid Particulates in Workplace Atmospheres (ICP). Method No. ID-125G, (1991, April). Describes the collection and subsequent analysis of airborne metal and metalloid particulate by Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICAP-AES). Beryllium is one of several metals that can be analyzed by this method.

o    ICP Analysis of Metal/Metalloid Particulates from Solder Operations. Method No. ID-206, (1991, May). Describes the collection and analysis of airborne metal and metalloid particulates from solder operations in industry.

Beryllium - Possible Solutions

Controlling the exposure to beryllium can be done through engineering controls, administrative actions, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Engineering controls include such things as isolating the source and using ventilation systems to control dust. Administrative actions include limiting the worker's exposure time and providing showers. PPE includes wearing the proper respiratory protection and clothing. The following resources contain information to help control beryllium hazards in the workplace.

·         Beryllium at Hanford. Department of Energy (DOE), (2003). Provides information for Hanford employees who are concerned about beryllium. The information presented has been provided by site contractors.

·         Beryllium Support Group

·         Preventing Adverse Effects from Exposure to Beryllium in Dental Laboratories. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin (HIB), (2002, May). Also available as a 42 KB PDF, 9 pages. Informs employers and employees about the risk of dental laboratory technicians developing chronic beryllium disease (CBD). It also provides information on the ways in which beryllium exposures can be reduced and the type of protective equipment which can be worn to reduce exposure.

·         Beryllium. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), International Chemical Safety Cards, (2000). Contains general information on beryllium hazards and exposure prevention.

·         Brush Wellman Safety Facts


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