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Intervention to control take home beryllium exposures of machine shop workers.

Sanderson W; Taylor L; Booher D; Henneberger P
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :105-106
A survey of beryllium contamination on workers' hands and inside their personal vehicles at a machine shop where workers had developed chronic beryllium disease (CBD) showed that they were likely to have carried beryllium on their bodies and clothes into their homes. These take-home beryllium exposures could potentially not only increase the workers' risk for CBD but also put their families at risk. Subsequently, the company installed locker-rooms, provided workers uniforms and shoes to wear while in the plant, and required them to shower and change into their take-home clothing before leaving the plant. Although all workers followed the clothing policy, very few if any were showering before leaving work. The company also reduced the airborne and surface levels of beryllium inside the plant. To determine the effectiveness of these changes in reducing beryllium migration from the plant, wipe samples were collected from workers' hands, necks, and shoes on two occasions: immediately after the changes were made and one year later. The workers' vehicles were cleaned immediately after the changes to provide a baseline beryllium level and the same vehicles were sampled one year later. The samples were analyzed for beryllium content by inductively coupled argon plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy and compared to the measurements before the intervention. One year after the intervention, the beryllium concentrations were over 40% lower on vehicle seats and over 75% lower on vehicle floors, while concentrations on workers hands were only 25% lower. The geometric mean beryllium concentrations on workers hands, necks, and shoes were 3.4,0.6, and 5.7 ug, respectively. These data indicate that attempts to reduce take-home beryllium were somewhat successful, but had not completely eliminated the migration of beryllium from the plant. Additional effort, including employee education about take-home risks, is needed to ensure that workers shower before going home.
Beryllium-compounds; Exposure-levels; Occupational-exposure; Workers; Diseases; Airborne-particles; Sampling; Heavy-metals; Heavy-metal-poisoning
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division