Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Safe Handling of Beryl & Beryllium


#1

I purchased some Bertrandite (aka Opal Fluorite, Tiffany Stone,
Purple Opal, and Ice Cream Opalite among many other names) on eBay,
being unaware that beryllium is toxic. I know it probably has a very
minimal amount in it, but am still worried about having it around my
house since I have very young children and pets (as well as my own
health). I wanted to cab it, but don=92t know how to handle it. I am
assuming that the only time it is hazardous is when it enters the
air and is breathed, but is safe to touch and wear since I am
constantly seeing so many people auctioning rough and ready to mount
or wear stones. Is there anything special that needs to be done
while handling or cabbing it? Why do people use it (besides
aesthetics) if there is the possibility of contracting serious lung
problems from it? I (now) know emeralds and aquamarine also contain
beryllium, so is there a special way to handle them as well, and
does anyone need to worry about prolonged exposure to them by just
wearing them if they are touching the skin, etc.? I actually have
some rough aquamarine, but don=92t know if I should try using it or
not, either. Also, are there any other stones that I should know
about that my present health problems if I try to cut and cab or
wear it (other than possible allergic reactions like some people
have to silver)?

(From: http://pearl1.lanl.gov/periodic/elements/4.html ) Beryllium
and its salts are toxic and should be handled with the greatest of
care. Beryllium and its compounds should not be tasted to verify the
sweetish nature of beryllium (as did early experimenters). The
metal, its alloys, and its salts can be handled if certain work
codes are observed, but no attempt should be made to work with
beryllium before becoming familiar with proper safeguards.

(From: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts4.html ) HIGHLIGHTS: People
working or living near beryllium industries have the greatest
potential for exposure to beryllium. Lung damage has been observed
in people exposed to high levels of beryllium in the air. 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. CBD may be completely asymptomatic or begin with coughing,
chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, and/or fatigue. Beryllium
has been found in at least 535 of the 1,613 National Priorities List
sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

I know I am probably being overly paranoid, but it is better to be
safe than sorry. Thanks a lot for your time. I really appreciate it.

Heather Plessner


#2

I don’t think there would be a problem with beryllium-containing
minerals - the Be is so tightly bonded it doesn’t come loose, and in
a compound I believe it’s harmless. However - there are metal
alloys that contain beryllium, and if you are going to heat, melt,
dissolve, or finely-powder those, I think you shouldn’t. The
Be may come off as fumes.

Tas
www.earthlywealth.com


#3

Hi Heather

Bertrandite or Tiffany stone contains Beryllium and the following is
a quote from

http://pearl1.lanl.gov/periodic/elements/4.html

  Beryllium and its salts are toxic and should be handled with
  the greatest of care. Beryllium and its compounds should not
  be tasted to verify the sweetish nature of beryllium (as did
  early experimenters). The metal, its alloys, and its salts can
  be handled if certain work codes are observed, but no attempt
  should be made to work with beryllium before becoming familiar
  with proper safeguards. 

Also you can see the hurtful side effects of contamination at

http://www.nationaljewish.org/medfacts/beryllium_medfact.html

There are some articles in the archives on the subject already such
as http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/archive/200201/msg00701.htm ,
please check these out further.

Hopefully someone else has cut them and can give you more info on
safety procedures.

Karen Bahr “the Rocklady” (@Rocklady)
K.I.S. Creations
May your gems always sparkle.


#4

WWWEEELLL, I have cut bertrandite and have several pretty large
chunks laying around. I’m still alive and kicking and have no health
problems…well, I was a bit overweight but the South Beach Diet
took care of that!’

I took normal precautions when cutting it…kept it wet, wore
safety glasses and washed up well afterwards. Otherwise, nothing
special. Remember, bertrandite isn’t beryllium, it is opalite that
forms in the presence of florite (which causes the beautiful purple
color) and beryllium (which usually causes the lovely yellowish
color). Thus, it normally only contains trace amounts of these
elements. I doubt it is any more dangerous to cut than yellow
petrified wood which is also radioactive!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#5

Thanks to everyone who has posted info for me. I tried searching the
Orchid archives before posting the question, but was apparently
looking for the wrong key words. I was looking for info on handling
bertrandite instead of doing a search for just the word bertrandite.
On one of the old threads

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/tiffany-stone-opal-with-fluorite-manganeseetc!

that the last person trying to help me in my quest posted, a couple
of the people were asking for suggestions on what 'Tiffany Stone’
should be called since that name was causing a controversy. Tom
Munson said he would send whoever had the best name idea a rough
stone… I know it is an old offer, and I would never be able to
think of anything creative, but why don’t they just throw the words
fluorite and opal together: Fluopal (FLUOrite & OPAL) or Fluopalite
(FLUORITE & OPAL), or even just flopal or flopalite without the u.
That is, if it really is opal as someone pointed out that it may not
actually be. Maybe there are some current Orchidians somewhere out
there in Orchidland that know more about Bertrandite or Tiffany Stone
and are inventive that could come up with a suitable name for
whatever it really is made out of.

Heather Plessner