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Beryllium toxicity?


#1

I noticed today that Beryllium is newly listed as a cancer causing
substance by Osha, and that workers in the ceramic and jewelry
industry, among others, are listed as being exposed to beryllium and
at risk for developing untreatable lung problems as a result of
repeated exposure. Does anyone know when we are at risk and with what
substances, and how to take precautions in light of this new warning?

Linda


#2

*Newly *listed??? There is certainly nothing new about the general
knowledge that beryllium is toxic! I can’t believe that OSHA was
unaware of that. Perhaps they just put out a new warning due to the
increased use of beryllium in the jewelry industry???

I would imagine the problem areas would be grinding, buffing, and
suchlike. Any activity that would have you breathing the dust. This,
by the way (as rockhounds know) also applies to cutting and cabbing
of beryllium-containing minerals.(And also copper minerals.)

Any time you have a bunch of sharp little particles in the air,
you need a mask for protection.

Margaret


#3
 Berylium has long  been known to be a problem causing element.  I
first had any  contact with anyone machining Berylium about 1963
and it was handled very carefully  even then.  It had been worked
as a material before this in the nuclear area but I hadn't 
contact with any operatios before 63. 

At that time and afterwards the concern was called Berylosis an
interstitial pneumonia . 2 to 15 years of exposure seems to be
required for this to develop. Rarely other hard metals including
aluminum powder, chromium,cobalt, titanium dioxide and tungsten may
produce the same effect.

Jesse


#4

Beryllium disease is not new news. It has been listed as a lung
hazard on the OSHA lists for several decades and like silicosis it
greatly increases your risk of lung cancer. As jewelers it is
probably not much of a hazard to us as there is not many things that
we work on that have beryllium in them. The only one that comes to
mind is beryllium copper spring alloy that is used in some base
metal findings. The way you get beryllium disease is to inhale
beryllium dust into your lungs so unless you are grinding or
polishing it there is not any way to get it into your system.
Beryllia (beryllium oxide) is a ceramic that is used in high tech
and electronics applications I am not sure if beryllia or beryllium
are used at all in studio ceramics. There are many other more clear
and present dangers to worry about in our studios than beryllium
like silica for example.

Jim


#5
      I noticed today that Beryllium is newly  listed as a cancer
causing substance by Osha, and that workers in the ceramic and
jewelry industry, among others, are listed as being exposed to
beryllium and at risk for developing untreatable lung problems as a
result of repeated exposure. Does anyone know when we are at risk
and with what substances, and how to take precautions in light of
this new warning? 

I think the report was written by someone not familier with the
jewelery industry. They list beryllium as dangerous to jewelers,
when the only source I’m aware of is beryllium copper, an alloy we
rarely use. Occasionally one sees references to it, usually with
great cautions about the beryllium. It’s used for springs and the
like. Might have applications to be aware of in watchmaking. I
don’t know. But I DID notice that the same report also mentioned
nickel alloys, and didn’t bother to mention the jewelery industry.
As in white gold, “german silver”, etc., not to mention the nasty
nickel plating solutions we use as underplates for rhodium and
sometimes gold, over sterling silver… And the same bit also noted
that metallic nickel is not in the 5 cent nickel coin. That’s a
surprise. It certainly USED to be in there. Wonder how they now
get the otherwise copper based alloy to be hard and white like that.
My understanding always was that the nickel was a "german silver"
type of alloys (copper, zinc, and nickel)… And they’ve obviously
never analyzed a Canadiuan nickel. I seem to recall that those USED
to be pure nickel, aren’t they? (unsure about that, but I remember
hearing it somewhere). I rather expect that there’s some nickel in
all of the white colored, non silver, U.S. coins. Maybe they consider
an alloy where the nickel is bound in the alloy form, to no longer
contain metallic nickel?

cheers
Peter


#6

Linda;

In regards to beryllium and cancer - I don’t know. But there is
another killing path to be aware of and that is berylicosis. Its a
disease of the lungs you get from breathing beryllium dust. A
particular nasty killer it is too, and it doesn’t take much.

Has been some publicity in our area because the workers in a
beryllium plant have found out that the company they work for has
been exposing them to it without regard for their health and exposure
standards.

Check it out to get the real scoop, but no cutting, grinding, etc.
unless you are really protected with respirators, overclothes, etc.
Wives have caught it from washing the clothes of a beryllium worker.
Seems some people are “allergic” to it and very susceptible.

Be very careful if working this element.

Eric


#7

So after writing the below quoted bits, i did a tad of web
searching…

  And the same bit also noted that metallic nickel is not in the 5
cent nickel coin. 

The U.S. 5 cent coin, the nickel, since 1955, and before WW2 as well
(wartime ones were steel), are an alloy of 75% copper, 25% nickel.

The Canadians have used nickel even more. From 1968 to 2000, the
Canadian dime, quarter, and 50 cent piece were essentially pure
nickel. Their 5 cent piece was pure nickel from 1955 to 1981, and
from 1982 to 2000, a copper/nickel alloys similar to the U.S. alloy
(I think. didn’t write down the exact alloy, and i’m too lasy to go
look again (grin)). What I wasn’t aware of is that Canada over the
last two years has been transitioning to a totally new process.
Most (or was it all, don’t remember) of their coins are now steel
cores, with multilayer electroplated surfaces, including pure nickel
on some. Even the new canadian penny is steel, with a copper
electroplate…

Peter


#8

In looking through both trade books and the Oxford Dictionary of
Chemistry,I thought I would mention that Beryllum is an element in
Beryl which covers Emerald, Aqua, Colored Beryls such as Morganite,
Golden Beryl, Goshenite, Helidor, etc. Chrysoberyl.which also
includes Alexandrite. .The chemical abbreviation for Beryllum is Be.
I imagine if you check the chemical composition of a stone and it
has Be in it, than be wary of grinding and cutting it. I see in one
of my gemstone books that Euclase has a chemical composition with
the Be in the formula. If any jeweler or gemstone cutter is cutting
materials, it is of the utmost importance to where a respirator
mask, and do not bring the clothes you wear for cutting into other
parts of the house.

Diane Sadel
http://www.sweetgemstones.com


#9

Beryllium toxicity is not new, toxicologists have know of its toxic
properties for years. What may be of more recent origin is the
metals listing as a carcinogen. The toxic properties are focused on
the lungs, as Linda mentioned, but other organ systems may be
involved. The toxicity is associated with the metal and soluble
salts, so unless you are working with beryllium, it’s alloys, or
metal salts, you should have nothing to worry about. I think there
are some bronzes available which contain beryllium, so if you use
alloys other than the common gold and silver alloys, ask your
supplier for more As far as I know, the minerals
composed of beryllium silicate are not toxic, but, of course, the
dusts produced by grinding these minerals will be hazardous to lungs
as are most finely divided particles which can be toxic by virtue of
mechanical properties alone without any associated toxic properties
of the elements involved. This is just off the top of my head, and I
am sure there is much more available on the net.

Best Regards,
Jim DeRosa
James DeRosa, Jr.
140 Clifton Drive
Boardman, OH 44512-1616
330-782-0702


#10
Berylium has long  been known to be a problem causing element.  I
first had any  contact with anyone machining Berylium about 1963
and it was handled very carefully  even then.  It had been worked
as a material before this in the nuclear area but I hadn't 
contact with any operatios before 63. 

At that time and afterwards the concern was called Berylosis an
interstitial pneumonia . 2 to 15 years of exposure seems to be
required for this to develop. Rarely other hard metals including
aluminum powder, chromium,cobalt, titanium dioxide and tungsten may
produce the same effect.

The problem would be a dust particle since. I know it was been
considered a resiratory carcinogen from animal studies only in
1994. This is similar to many other materials on long occuptional
exposure. These problems seem to be largerly related to the
specific dust particle size that is both invisible to the eye and
that is a not cleared very well from the lungs. Problems are very
heavily increased in smokers. Smoking effects are very likely the
real trigger with the other contamination just adding to the
situation.

In the apparent interest of continuing fairness to the tobacco
industry my original post was OVER edited. There is a VERY high
correlation of tobacco coinvolvement with all lung related
problems.

Please correct this.
Jesse


#11

Dear All: Regarding Beryllium-I have found much data on the OSHA
website www.osha.gov

On the main page of OSHA, in the middle column, about two-thirds of
the way down, is a whole section on beryllium. It is a good read and
also had links to other sites. I think that as long as we all
practice generally accepted rules of safety, we should be protected.
In our Mississippi summer heat, I’m probably as guilty as the next
jeweler down here of not wearing my respirator. I’m already allergy
prone, so I usually wear a respirator even when I’m grinding and
polishing. But when it’s 100+ degrees, I’m more prone to just tear
the thing off because it’s so hot. Happy Holidays from Pterne Designs

in Brandon, Mississippi


#12

“OSHA” - Once again - this refers to the METAL not to the insoluble
metallic salts. There is a lot of difference. Just because a material
contains beryllium as part of its make-up does not mean that there
are the same risks as working with the metal.

Tony