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Exposure assessment at a beryllium ceramics facility following implementation of a dermal protection program.

Day G; Schuler C; Berakis M; Kent M; McCawley M
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2004 May; :78-79
Efforts to prevent beryllium sensitization and chronic beryllium disease have historically focused on controlling inhalation exposures. Epidemiologic studies suggest that mass airborne beryllium exposure is not a good predictor of risk. The lack of a clear relationship between airborne exposure and sensitization suggests that other exposure pathways, such as dermal exposure, may be more relevant. A dermal protection program, including use of gloves in production areas, was recently instituted at a beryllium ceramics production facility with a history of beryllium sensitization and chronic beryllium disease in workers. The purpose of this study was to assess the total amount of beryllium on workers' hands following implementation of this program. Wipe samples were collected from the skin (2 hands) of 122 workers (87 production, 35 production support), following at least 1 hour performing their regular work. Additional information was collected on work area, work activity, and glove use. Samples were analyzed for mass beryllium by inductively-coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry, and normalized to workers' estimated hand size. All participants reported wearing gloves when working in production areas, including production support workers entering or passing through production areas. Analytical results, although highly variable, indicated measurable levels of beryllium in 99% (121/122) of samples, ranging from less than the limit of detection (LOD = 0.01) to 46 µg. The overall geometric mean, normalized to hand surface area, was 0.27 +/- 5.3 ug/100 cm2. Levels of beryllium were higher on the hands of production workers, compared to production support workers (0.49 +/- 3.6 versus 0.06 +/- 4.9 ug/100 cm2, p<0.05).These results provide information regarding the relative mass of beryllium found on the hands of glove-wearing beryllium ceramics workers. Subsequent evaluations of work practices, both programmatic and individual, are being used to refine and improve personal protection practices.
Beryllium-compounds; Beryllium-disease; Sensitization; Occupational-exposure; Inhalation-studies; Epidemiology; Airborne-particles; Gloves; Safety-equipment; Analytical-methods; Skin-exposure; Skin-absorption
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Research Tools and Approaches: Exposure Assessment Methods
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: August 26, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division