OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Trade News Release
April 23, 2002
Contact: Frank Meilinger
Phone: (202) 693-1999
EXPOSURE TO BERYLLIUM IN DENTAL LABS
A new Hazard Information Bulletin issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alerts dental laboratories on how to prevent exposure to beryllium, which can cause chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a debilitating and often fatal lung disease, or lung cancer.
"Inhaling Beryllium dust at some concentrations is extremely hazardous-sometimes deadly," said OSHA Administrator John. Henshaw. "We are concerned that dental lab technicians are continuing to contract the disease associated with Beryllium exposure. This bulletin informs dental labs and workers of the potential hazards and offers effective methods to prevent exposure to beryllium."
The Hazard Information Bulletin presents a case of CBD recently diagnosed in a dental lab technician and recommends the types of engineering controls, work practices, training, personal protective equipment and housekeeping procedures that can be used to reduce beryllium exposure and the risk of CBD. It also provides information on a health surveillance tool that can be used to identify workers with CBD, or beryllium-sensitized individuals, who are at a high risk of progressing to CBD.
Dental laboratory technicians can develop CBD if they inhale dust containing beryllium when working on items such as dental crowns, bridges, and partial denture frameworks made from dental alloys containing beryllium. CBD may develop within months after initial exposure to beryllium or may have a very slow onset and not develop until years after exposure to beryllium has occurred.
Not all dental alloys contain beryllium. Dental laboratories and technicians should inquire about the contents of the alloys they are using. Information about the contents of dental alloys can be found in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that accompany these products to the dental laboratory.
Under OSHA's current beryllium standard employees cannot be exposed to more than 2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air for an 8-hour time-weighted average. Recent information suggests that compliance with this exposure limit is not adequate for preventing the occurrence of CBD. The Hazard Information Bulletin calls for, to the extent feasible, the use of improved engineering controls and work practices.
The Hazard Information Bulletin underwent an extensive review process, both inside and outside the Agency. The bulletin and more information on Beryllium are available on the OSHA web site at www.osha.gov.
This news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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