What is Beryllium?
Beryllium is a rare metal mined from the earth in the United States, China and Khazakhstan exclusively. Ultimately it is reduced to powder form for use in processes where a metal having any one of the unique properties of beryllium is necessary. It is stronger than steel but much lighter. It is also extremely resistant to high heat and corrosion and it is extremely rigid while flexible. These extraordinary characteristics are essential to understanding its extremely toxic nature once it is inside the human body.
The special characteristics of beryllium have led to a demand for it in aerospace, weapon, satellite and ceramic industries. Because it is extremely heat resistant it is used in heat transport and heat sinking applications. Because it is transparent to X-rays and other forms of ionizing radiation, it is commonly used as window material in X-ray equipment and particle physics experiments. Today beryllium use is strictly controlled because of its unusual toxicity to humans.
How Can Beryllium Harm You?
Beryllium exposure can cause the lung disease berylliosis, known today as Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD). Unlike most other toxic exposures, extremely low or intermittent exposures to beryllium are recognized to cause CBD. As hinted above, beryllium’s toxic potential is extraordinary because even a single exposure to beryllium can be sufficient to cause CBD and death ten years after the exposure event.
CBD initially resembles tuberculosis or sarcoidosis in that victims cough and are out of breath. Eventually the person may experience chest pain, joint aches, weight loss, and fever as the body attempts to activate enzymes to neturalize the beryllium in the body. Unfortunately, CBD is incurable but the symptoms can be treated.
The modern era’s awareness of beryllium’s toxicity is gained through the story of workers and the families of workers of Brush Wellman’s Lorain, OH beryllium manufacturing plant. Wives who never set foot on the plant floor suffered from CBD after washing their husband’s dirty clothes. Secretaries who never came into contact with the manufacturing process developed CBD through casual contact with workers. The current occupational limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter was adopted without clear data that it would protect human beings. It is still possible to develop CBD due to exposure beneath this standard.
If you or a loved one suffers from a Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD), please contact the Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation with an attorney.
How Can We Help?
For over 40 years, attorneys at the Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC have won compensation for our clients against the largest chemical companies in the world. In a world where cancer and sickness are becoming more common, the only way to prevent unnecessary risk is by holding companies accountable for negligently exposing us to cancer-causing products. If you choose the Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC for legal counsel, we will do our duty to keep you informed and protected in a professional, compassionate manner.