This depends on how much beryllium a person has been exposed to, for how long, and current state of health. Breathing high levels of beryllium dust or fumes may irritate the respiratory tract, causing chemical pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs). The lung damage may heal if breathing beryllium dust is stopped. Some people may become hypersensitive or allergic to beryllium on repeated or prolonged exposure to low levels of dust particles. This condition is called chronic beryllium disease (cough, weight loss, weakness) and can occur long after exposure to small amounts of beryllium. Both the short-term, pneumonia-like disease and the chronic beryllium disease can cause death. Swallowing beryllium has not been reported to cause harmful effects in humans because very little beryllium can move from the stomach and intestines into the bloodstream. Repeated or prolonged beryllium contact may cause skin sensitisation and, in the case of scraped or cut skin, rashes or ulcers. Inhalation of beryllium and its compounds is considered to have cancer-causing potential in humans. The effects of beryllium and its compounds are not well understood to date, and not all forms of beryllium are equally toxic. Worksafe Australia classifies beryllium as very toxic by inhalation and toxic if swallowed, and as a 'probable human carcinogen'. It can be irritating to eyes, respiratory system and skin. There is the danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure.
Entering the body
Beryllium can be inhaled or ingested.
Because beryllium is most commonly used in high-tech devices where it is bound into electronic components, the risk of exposure in the domestic environment is negligible. Exposure to beryllium happens mostly in very specialised workplaces (e.g. mining or processing ores, alloy and chemical manufacturing with beryllium, machining or recycling metals containing beryllium, nuclear industries), and near some industry or hazardous waste sites. Very rarely, tobacco smoke containing beryllium from leaves high in beryllium may be inhaled.
Worksafe Australia :
The eight hour time weighted average (TWA) exposure limit is 0.002 mg/m3.
Links to an another web site
Opens a pop-up window