Chronic Beryllium Disease: Are YOU at Risk?
Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD, Berylliosis) is the most common health problem associated with beryllium exposure. Beryllium is a strong, lightweight, non-magnetic metal that is used in manufacturing such products as cars, computers, and electrical equipment, and can also be found in oil, coal, rock minerals, and soil. Breathing beryllium dust at almost any level can cause cancer, chronic beryllium disease (CBD), and other health problems.
Who’s at Risk?
Those exposed to beryllium include workers in certain industries or people who live near factories that emit beryllium dust. A person exposed to beryllium usually becomes sensitized to the metal before developing CBD, meaning that the body first reacts negatively to that particular substance. Beryllium sensitivity and CBD can develop soon after exposure or even decades later.
Even secretaries at plants where beryllium is used have developed CBD through low, secondary exposure to beryllium.
In the early stages of CBD, the person experiences no symptoms. Overtime, inflammation occurs in the lungs due to reacting to a foreign object (beryllium). The lungs then develop collections of cells known as granulomas that may eventually cause scarring within the lungs, which in turn, reduces the lungs’ ability to function. As a result, the person may experience difficulty breathing/ shortness of breath, cough, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite/weight, joint pain, night sweats, and in advanced cases – right-side heart enlargement and heart disease.
There is no cure for CBD, but the symptoms can be treated; if left untreated, it can be fatal. Since CBD is a lung disease, early detection of respiratory infections is the first line of treatment and defense. The most frequent treatment for CBD is the use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone, which reduces inflammation.
The most effective way to prevent CBD is to avoid exposure to beryllium. Employers and employees must attempt to minimize and avoid exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets standards that all employers must follow. These standards include isolation of procedures that use beryllium even if minimal, adequate ventilation of workspaces, and the use of personal protective devices, such as face masks and respirators.
People who have been a victim of beryllium exposure can bring a lawsuit to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and other compensation. If you or a loved one has been exposed to beryllium and contracted CBD, or any other health problem as a result, please contact Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation.