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Estimating historical exposures of workers in a beryllium manufacturing plant.
Sanderson W; Petersen M; Ward E
Am J Ind Med 2001 Feb; 39(2):145-157
Beryllium is known to be toxic to the lungs, causing beryllium lung disease and associated with increased lung cancer risk. Airborne beryllium exposures have been monitored since the 1940s. This study describes methods used to measure airborne beryllium concentrations and how historical measurements from a beryllium manufacturing plant were used to estimate workers' exposures in a lung cancer case-control study. Airborne beryllium concentrations had been measured using all-glass impingers, high-volume air filters, and personal respirable and total dust samplers. To provide consistency in exposure estimates over time, measurements collected by the other monitoring methods were converted to approximate the most frequently used high-volume, time-weighted average measurements. Because industrial hygiene measurements were not collected in every year for all jobs throughout the duration of the case-control study, exposure estimates had to be extrapolated from the existing measurements over time and across jobs. Over 7,000 historical measurements were available to estimate beryllium exposures of workers over time. Average exposures between jobs varied considerably and exposures for all jobs decreased dramatically between the 1940s and 1970s due to major plant production changes. Although error in the exposure metrics for the cases and controls likely occurred due to limitations of the exposure assessment data, the exposure estimates for each job over time provided a reasonable, objective mechanism for categorizing workers by the relative exposures they were likely to have encountered during their tenure.
Beryllium-compounds; Case-studies; Lung-cancer; Workers; Worker-health; Occupational-exposure; Lung-disease; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respiratory-system-disorders; Airborne-particles; Airborne-dusts; Respirable-dust; Exposure-assessment; Author Keywords: beryllium; retrospective exposure matrix; lung cancer; case-control study
Dr. Wayne T. Sanderson, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA
Issue of Publication
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: July 23, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division