Rationale: Particle solubility may play a role in development of beryllium sensitization (BeS) and chronic beryllium disease (CBD), where more soluble materials (e.g., beryllium salts) may trigger immunologic sensitization and less soluble materials (e.g., beryllium oxide) contribute more to CBD. We evaluated this in a beryllium worker cohort with =.6 years' work tenure, surveyed in 1999; BeS prevalence was 9.8% (26/264), with 6 BeS diagnosed with CBD (2.3%, 6/264). Individual average, cumulative, and highest-job-worked exposures were estimated for both total and respirable beryllium exposures. Methods: Solubility in simulated lung fluid of the different forms of beryllium was assessed in experimental studies. Job exposures were then deemed to be soluble, if beryllium salts such as beryllium fluoride or sulfate were used, or during leaching and pickling operations, where beryllium was in acid solutions. Otherwise, job exposures were classified as insoluble, where the form of beryllium was mostly beryllium oxide, beryllium metal, or copper-beryllium alloy. Summary exposure metrics of average, cumulative, or highest-job-worked exposure were then stratified as soluble or insoluble, for both respirable and total beryllium exposures. These twelve summary exposure metrics were then used in logistic regression models for BeS and CBD to understand the role of solubility in the disease process. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were produced. BeS was related to soluble total and respirable exposures for all metrics, albeit with CIs that narrowly included unity; in prior work that did not address solubility, BeS was significantly associated with highest-job and average exposures only. CBD was significantly associated with insoluble total and respirable exposures for the cumulative exposure metric only, which is consistent with prior work that did not address solubility.
Beryllium-compounds; Beryllium-disease; Sensitization; Chemical-properties; Chemical-manufacturing-industry; Chemical-industry-workers; Immunologic-disorders; Occupational-exposure; Employee-exposure; Health-surveys; Exposure-assessment; Job-analysis; Copper-alloys; Metals; Mathematical-models; Statistical-analysis
C. R. Schuler, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV