Beryllium Exposure: Who is at Risk
Beryllium, a naturally occurring lightweight metal used widely across several sectors, has serious health implications on human wellbeing when its dust – which occurs upon heating or mechanical processing – is breathed in. Understanding the risks associated with Beryllium exposure is of significant importance, particularly for individuals involved in certain industries or living in particular environments that may increase their risk of contact.
What is Beryllium and What is it Used For?
Beryllium is a lightweight but extremely strong and heat-resistant element found in nature. Given its unique characteristics, beryllium is used for various industrial applications. For example, in the aerospace and defense industry, it’s often used in the production of aircrafts, missiles, and spacecrafts because it is lightweight yet incredibly strong and stable at extreme temperatures.
The Dangers of Beryllium Exposure
Although solid beryllium metal in its untouched state doesn’t pose immediate danger, this is not the case once the metal is manipulated. When it’s being processed or altered—usually creating dust and fumes—that’s when it becomes a significant health risk.
When you inhale it or come into skin contact with it, Beryllium can trigger an allergic immune response—this is known as Beryllium sensitization. Once sensitized, the individual stands at a significant risk of developing Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD), a potentially serious respiratory disease with detrimental effects on lung function over time due to inflammation and scarring.
Symptoms during early stages may not be apparent immediately but eventually manifest as breathing difficulties, persistent fatigue, coughing, fever, joint pain, weight loss, and swollen lymph nodes/enlarged liver in later stages.
Who is Most at Risk?
Beryllium exposure can truly pose a risk to any worker’s health. If your job falls under any of the listed industries and occupations, you are potentially at higher risk for such exposure. Those may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Aerospace employees
- Automotive manufacturers and tradesmen
- Computer manufacturing personnel
- Construction workers
- Electronic firms
- Furnace tenders
- Those working with nuclear weapons
- Anyone involved in industrial ceramics
- Laboratory professionals
If your professional duties include beryllium manufacturing, alloy production, or the recycling industry, you’re likely to be in a role that receives the highest amount of exposure.
Additionally, exposure to beryllium isn’t confined only to the workplaces or industries where beryllium is directly handled. Families and households of workers in high-exposure industries could also get exposed through residues on both work clothing and other items brought home from these worksites. Therefore, it’s crucial that you observe safe and dedicated handling procedures at your workplace to minimize this risk for yourself as well as your loved ones at home.
Outlook/Prognosis of Chronic Beryllium Disease
When considering the prognosis or outlook for Chronic Beryllium Disease, it’s important to note that there isn’t a clear-cut path for this illness. This is due largely in part to its incompletely understood natural progression.
In some cases, afflicted individuals may develop respiratory impairments that persist over time but stabilize with treatment, while others might experience advancing disability and unfortunately, death.
This uncertainty highlights why you should seek immediate assessment and continuous monitoring by a healthcare professional experienced in handling CBD if you are regularly exposed or suspect exposure. Their expertise can help manage symptoms effectively and monitor your health closely, ensuring the best possible outcome.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer For Help
If you suspect that your health problems are caused by exposure to beryllium at your workplace, it will be in your best interest to reach out for legal assistance right away. Specifically, look for a lawyer who specializes in Los Angeles personal injury claims relating to occupational exposures.
They can guide you through the complex process of securing compensation for medical costs, lost wages if unable or unfit work, and even pain and suffering caused by this illness. We’re always here to help; contact us today to schedule a free consultation.