Applications, Future Trends, and Opportunities
Currently beryllium exposure monitoring uses measurement technology developed for metals in general. The very low levels that beryllium exposure control programs are attempting to achieve are leading to innovative analytical methods and could drive innovative exposure monitoring strategies as well. Current strategies generally aim to use air monitoring results for two purposes: 1) to estimate individuals' actual exposures and 2) understand the causes and sources of exposure. This strategy dictates collecting samples from small air volumes. The samples need to be collected from workers breathing zones with wearable monitors to reflect the workers actual exposure and the duration of sampling is limited to a single work shift or shorter periods so that the results can be related to jobs or tasks that are the likely cause of the exposure. Strategies that accomplish these two goals with separate measurements might allow for larger air volumes or more sensitive particle counting instruments. Beryllium risk management also utilizes surface sampling to understand the distribution of contamination and to determine whether skin protection is effective. Recent developments in dermal monitoring are beginning to be used for beryllium exposure control as well. Surface wipe sampling methods developed as a quality check for cleaning are proving to be less well suited for characterization of surfaces with settled dust. Vacuum sampling may be better suited for this problem if agreed-upon methods for interpretation can be reached. Technology that could be used for point-and-shoot instruments has been demonstrated but would require significant investment to develop.