NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Assessing the contribution of dermal exposure to total beryllium exposure.

Day GA; Dufresne A; Stefaniak AB; Schuler CR; Kent MS; Deubner DC; Kreiss-K; Hoover MD
Occupational and Environmental Exposures of Skin to Chemicals, Stockholm, Sweden, June 12 -15, 2005. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2005 Jun; :1-3
This work represents part of a comprehensive initiative to evaluate the contribution of skin exposure to total exposure in the workplace. Our conceptual model takes into account the multiple and dynamic pathways by which metal-containing particles may be inhaled, ingested, or enter the body through the skin following transfer from a source to workplace air; from the air to work surfaces, skin, and clothing; from surfaces back into air; and from air, surfaces, and clothing to areas of exposed skin and breathing zones. Observed health effects associated with exposure to beryllium compounds include both sensitization and chronic beryllium disease (CBD). Efforts to prevent beryllium sensitization and CBD have historically focused on controlling inhalation exposures; however, skin exposure may also be a biologically plausible contributor to sensitization. Sensitization to other metals, such as nickel, is known to occur by the dermal route. Sensitization (measured by positive patch testing) has been demonstrated experimentally to occur in humans who were exposed via the skin to soluble beryllium salts. Sensitization has also been demonstrated experimentally to occur in laboratory animals exposed via the skin to soluble beryllium salts or to insoluble beryllium oxide particles. It is not known what route(s) of exposure induce sensitization in industrial work environments. A prior cross-sectional epidemiological study performed at a copper-beryllium alloy strip and wire finishing facility demonstrated levels of sensitization (7%) and CBD (4%) that were comparable to levels found at other primary beryllium production facilities associated with higher airborne exposure. A comprehensive personal exposure assessment also confirmed the low airborne beryllium concentrations at the facility (n=562 lapel samples; geometric mean [GM]=0.026 µg/m3; geometric standard deviation [GSD]=1.7). Improvements were made to engineering and administrative controls, including a dermal protection program that required the use of long sleeves and nitrile gloves in production areas. The current post-intervention study was designed to measure the levels of beryllium in general workplace air, on work surfaces, on cotton gloves worn by workers, and on the necks and faces of those same workers, and to evaluate their interrelationships.
Skin-tests; Skin-irritants; Skin-exposure; Skin-disorders; Skin-absorption; Absorption-rates; Statistical-analysis; Biomarkers; Metabolites; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-limits; Exposure-levels; Workplace-studies; Workplace-monitoring; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Metal-dusts; Metal-compounds; Metal-industry; Metal-industry-workers; Metal-poisoning; Metal-workers; Beryllium-compounds; Beryllium-disease; Beryllium-poisoning; Protective-clothing; Protective-measures
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Occupational and Environmental Exposures of Skin to Chemicals, Stockholm, Sweden, June 12 -15, 2005
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division