Overview of Beryllium Sampling and Analysis: Occupational Hygiene and Environmental Applications
Because of its unique properties as a lightweight metal with high tensile strength, beryllium is widely used in applications including cell phones, golf clubs, aerospace, and nuclear weapons. Beryllium is also encountered in industries such as aluminium manufacturing, and in environmental remediation projects. Workplace exposure to beryllium particulates is a growing concern, as exposure to minute quantities of anthropogenic forms of beryllium may lead to sensitization and to chronic beryllium disease, which can be fatal and for which no cure is currently known. Furthermore, there is no known exposure-response relationship with which to establish a “safe” maximum level of beryllium exposure. As a result, the current trend is toward ever lower occupational exposure limits, which in turn make exposure assessment, both in terms of sampling and analysis, more challenging. The problems are exacerbated by difficulties in sample preparation for refractory forms of beryllium, such as beryllium oxide, and by indications that some beryllium forms may be more toxic than others. This chapter provides an overview of sources and uses of beryllium, health risks, and occupational exposure limits. It also provides a general overview of sampling, analysis, and data evaluation issues that will be explored in greater depth in the remaining chapters. The goal of this book is to provide a comprehensive resource to aid personnel in a wide variety of disciplines in selecting sampling and analysis methods that will facilitate informed decision-making in workplace and environmental settings.