Background. Most epidemiologic research on beryllium-related health problems has focused on the primary industry or the large users of this metal in atomic energy and weaponry. The findings from these studies suggest that exposure to relatively low levels of beryllium can lead to sensitization and the development of chronic beryllium disease in the lungs. Therefore, it is important to identify companies outside the primary industry and atomic industry where beryllium exposure occurs. Existing data were used to identify such companies in the United States. Methods. We relied on two sources of industrial hygiene sampling results. First, we used exposure measurements from work-site inspections completed between 1979 and 1996 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA maintains these data in the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS). Second, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts work-site investigations in response to requests from the public as part of the Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) program. We reviewed the results stored in the IMIS data base and HHE records to determine in which four-digit Standard 1ndustrial Classification (SIC) categories beryllium had been detected at or above 0.1 mu gm(3). This level was considered to be a reliable lower limit of detection above background noise and interference in the method of analysis. Results. A total of 111 four-digit SIC codes were identified as having at least one beryllium measurement at or above 0.1 mu g/m(3), and approximately three-quarters of these industry categories were in the manufacturing sector. However, companies were also identified in many other sectors, including mining, construction, transportation and public utilities, wholesale trade, services, and public administration. Approximately a third of the four-digit SIC codes with beryllium exposure had two or more samples at or above the NIOSH recommended exposure limit of 0.5 mu g/m(3), and all of these higher measurements were in the manufacturing, construction, and mining sectors. Conclusions. Neither the IMIS nor HHE data set represents a random sample of all industries in the United States, and inspections were not conducted by OSHA or NIOSH with the intention of identifying all worksites where beryllium was used. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that exposure to beryllium can occur in secondary and tertiary industries, and additional work is needed to address this problem.
Work-areas; Worker-health; Workers; Chemical-hypersensitivity; Chemical-indicators; Chemical-properties; Exposure-assessment; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-health; Lung-disease; Lung-disorders; Lung-irritants; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Industrial-environment; Industrial-exposures; Industrial-hazards; Industrial-hygiene; Epidemiology; Beryllium-compounds