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Beryllium

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Exposure Evaluation and Controls

Visit OSHA’s Final Rule on Beryllium page for information on the new final rule.

Exposure to beryllium via inhalation of airborne beryllium or dermal contact with beryllium-containing dust, fume, mist or solutions can cause health effects. The following resources provide information on exposure limits and analytical methods used to evaluate workers’ beryllium exposure.

Evaluating Exposures

The Chemical Sampling Information pages present, in concise form, data on a large number of chemical substances that may be encountered in industrial hygiene investigations. They are intended as a basic reference for OSHA compliance personnel along with the air sampling method used by OSHA.

Analytical Methods

OSHA

OSHA has developed and validated methods for use by the Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) laboratory. The following methods for sampling and measuring metal and metalloid particulates, including beryllium, have also been adopted by many laboratories.

  • Metal and Metalloid Particulates in Workplace Atmospheres (ICP Analysis). Method No. ID-125G, (April 1991). 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. OSHA's Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) has performed an analytical study demonstrating the feasibility of an update to its analytical method which could be used by the Agency for measuring beryllium at the proposed action level (0.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air) with at least the required degree of accuracy.  The modifications consist of using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS) instead of ICP-AES and performing a 10× dilution of the sample digest before analysis.
  • ICP Analysis of Metal/Metalloid Particulates from Solder Operations. Method No. ID-206, (May 1991). Describes the collection and analysis of airborne metal and metalloid particulates from solder operations.

For additional information, see OSHA's Sampling and Analysis Safety and Health Topics Page.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

ASTM International Standards

  • Determination of Elements in Airborne Particulate Matter by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry. Method D 7439-08. Comparable to OSHA ID-125G.
  • Determination of Beryllium in the Workplace Using Field-Based Extraction and Optical Fluorescence Detection. Method D7202-11. Comparable to NIOSH 7704 / NIOSH 9110.
Controlling Exposure

Workers are primarily exposed to beryllium by breathing in dusts, fumes, or mists containing beryllium. Beryllium compounds can also get on the skin, contaminate clothing or food, and be ingested. The most effective way to prevent exposure to a hazardous metal such as beryllium is through elimination or substitution with viable, less toxic alternatives or through the use of engineering controls. The hierarchy of controls describes the order that should be followed when choosing among exposure-control options for a hazardous substance. Generally, elimination or substitution is the preferred choice (most protective) at the top of the hierarchy, followed by engineering controls, administrative and work-practice controls, and, finally, personal protective equipment (PPE). Engineering controls include isolating the source of exposure and using local exhaust ventilation to remove the hazardous substance before it enters the worker's environment. Administrative and work-practice controls include limiting the amount of time a worker performs work involving potential exposure to beryllium and proper cleaning and housekeeping methods, including the use of HEPA vacuuming and wet mopping instead of dry sweeping. PPE includes wearing the proper respiratory protection and protective clothing. These practices both limit worker exposure to beryllium in the workplace and help prevent beryllium contamination of workers' cars and homes.

The following list of resources provides information about beryllium and control methods that can be used to reduce and prevent exposure:

  • Preventing Adverse Health Effects from Exposure to Beryllium in Dental Laboratories. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin (HIB), (Revised May 2002; April 19, 2002). 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.
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-149, (September 2007). Provides physical description, exposure limits, measurement method, personal protection & sanitation, first aid, respirator recommendations, exposure routes, symptoms, target organs, and cancer sites.
  • Beryllium & beryllium compounds (as Be). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.
  • Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) No. 81-123, (January 1981). Contains information on identification, physical and chemical properties, health hazards, exposure limits, exposure sources and control methods, monitoring, personal hygiene, storage, spills and leaks, and personal protective equipment.
  • Beryllium. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Provides links to sources of information on a variety of topics relating to beryllium.
  • Beryllium Program - Beryllium at Hanford. Department of Energy Hanford. Provides information for Hanford employees who are concerned about beryllium. The information presented has been provided by site contractors.
  • For additional information on general safety and health issues, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:
  • For information on Safety Data Sheets and Labeling of hazardous materials, see OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard webpage.
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