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„h Beryllium dust enters the air from burning coal and oil. This beryllium dust will eventually settle over the land and water.

„h It enters water from erosion of rocks and soil, and from industrial waste. Some beryllium compounds will dissolve in water, but most stick to particles and settle to the bottom.

„h Most beryllium in soil does not dissolve in water and remains bound to soil.

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„h Beryllium does not accumulate in the food chain.

People working or living near beryllium industries have the greatest potential for exposure to beryllium. Lung damage has been observed in people exposed to high levels of beryllium in the air. About 1-15% of all people occupationally-exposed to beryllium in air become sensitive to beryllium and may develop chronic beryllium disease (CBD), an irreversible and sometimes fatal scarring of the lungs. CBD may be completely asymptomatic or begin with coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, and/or fatigue. Beryllium has been found in at least 55 of the 1,61 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Beryllium can be harmful if you breathe it. The effects depend on how much you are exposed to and for how long. If beryllium air levels are high enough (greater than 1000 £gg/m), an acute condition can result. This condition resembles pneumonia and is called acute beryllium disease Occupational and community air standards are effective in preventing most acute lung damage.

Some people (1-15%) become sensitive to beryllium. These individuals may develop an inflammatory reaction in the respiratory system. This condition is called chronic beryllium disease (CBD), and can occur many years after exposure to higher than normal levels of beryllium (greater than 0. £gg/m). This disease can make you feel weak and tired, and can cause difficulty in breathing. It can also result in anorexia, weight loss, and may also lead to right side heart enlargement and heart disease in advanced cases. Some people who are sensitized to beryllium may not have any symptoms. The general population is unlikely to develop acute or chronic beryllium disease because ambient air levels of beryllium are normally very low (0.0000-0.000 £gg/m).

Swallowing beryllium has not been reported to cause effects in humans because very little beryllium is absorbed from the stomach and intestines. Ulcers have been seen in dogs ingesting beryllium in the diet. Beryllium contact with skin that has been scraped or cut may cause rashes or ulcers.

Chronic beryllium disease, or CBD, is an inflammation in the lungs that can occur when a person is exposed to respirable beryllium fumes, dusts or powder, and subsequently demonstrates an allergic reaction to beryllium. CBD is an occupational disease that may occur in the manufacture of metallic beryllium, beryllium oxide ceramic, or alloys containing beryllium. It was first identified more than 50 years ago.

Not everyone who is exposed to beryllium fumes, dusts or powder will develop CBD; most people do not. Researchers now believe that the tendency to develop CBD is genetically determined and results from an allergic sensitivity. Some individuals develop an allergy to beryllium upon exposure and are, therefore, more likely to develop CBD.

Some people who are diagnosed with CBD do not develop clinical symptoms at all. In others, the disease can lead to clinical symptoms that include scarring and damage of lung tissue, causing shortness of breath, wheezing and/or coughing. Extreme cases of CBD can cause disability or death. The course of the disease can range from a few years to decades.

Beryllium disease primarily affects the lungs. The disease occurs when people inhale beryllium dust or fumes. Skin disease with poor wound healing and rash or wart-like bumps can also occur. A person can develop beryllium disease even after being away from the beryllium industry for many years. There are two forms of beryllium disease

Acute Beryllium Disease usually has a quick onset and resembles pneumonia or bronchitis. It is now rare due to improved industrial protective measures designed to reduce beryllium exposure levels.

Chronic Beryllium Disease has a very slow onset. It still occurs in 1-6% of exposed people. It is caused by an allergic reaction to beryllium. Even brief or small exposures can lead to this disease.

Does beryllium cause cancer? Beryllium has been shown to cause cancer in several species of animals. Workers in some beryllium producing facilities have had an increased rate of lung cancer, as have beryllium cases in the U.S. Beryllium Case Registry. Beryllium has recently been classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

What Are My Chances of Getting Beryllium Disease?

Only 1-6% of exposed people will develop beryllium disease. However, certain work tasks have been associated with disease rates as high as 16%. Recent genetic research has shown that approximately 40% of the population has a genetic marker that has been associated with susceptibility to disease in some individuals. Beryllium disease occurs among people exposed to dust or fumes from beryllium metal, metal oxides, alloys, ceramics or salts. Even very small amounts of exposure to beryllium can cause disease in some people. You are at risk of developing beryllium sensitization even after you leave beryllium exposure. The risk continues the rest of your life, even if you tested normal for beryllium sensitization at one time.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Beryllium Disease?

Beryllium disease is often accompanied by several abnormalities. Some symptoms that you may notice include


Shortness of breath, especially with activity


Weight loss and/or loss of appetite


Night sweats


What are some current issues and controversies about magnesium?

Magnesium and blood pressure

Evidence suggests that magnesium may play an important role in regulating blood pressure (4). Diets that provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of potassium and magnesium, are consistently associated with lower blood pressure (0-). The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) suggested that high blood pressure could be significantly lowered by a diet high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and low in sodium and fat (-6). In another study, the effect of various nutritional factors on incidence of high blood pressure was examined in over 0,000 U.S. male health professionals. After four years of follow-up, it was found that a greater magnesium intake was significantly associated with a lower risk of hypertension (7). The evidence is strong enough that the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends maintaining an adequate magnesium intake as a positive lifestyle modification for preventing and managing high blood pressure (8-0).

Magnesium and heart disease

Magnesium deficiency can cause metabolic changes that may contribute to heart attacks and strokes (1-). There is also evidence that low body stores of magnesium increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms (4), which may increase the risk of complications associated with a heart attack. Population surveys have associated higher blood levels of magnesium with lower risk of coronary heart disease (4-6). In addition, dietary surveys have suggested that a higher magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of stroke (7). Further studies are needed to understand the complex relationships between dietary magnesium intake, indicators of magnesium status, and heart disease.

Magnesium and osteoporosis

Magnesium deficiency may be a risk factor for postmenopausal osteoporosis (4). This may be due to the fact that magnesium deficiency alters calcium metabolism and the hormone that regulates calcium (1). Several studies have suggested that magnesium supplementation may improve bone mineral density (4), but researchers believe that further investigation on the role of magnesium in bone metabolism and osteoporosis is needed.

Magnesium and diabetes

Magnesium is important to carbohydrate metabolism. It may influence the release and activity of insulin, the hormone that helps control blood glucose levels (15). Elevated blood glucose levels increase the loss of magnesium in the urine, which in turn lowers blood levels of magnesium [(14). This explains why low blood levels of magnesium (hypomagnesemia) are seen in poorly controlled type 1 and type diabetes.

In 1, the American Diabetes Association issued a consensus statement that concluded Adequate dietary magnesium intake can generally be achieved by a nutritionally balanced meal plan as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. It recommended that ... only diabetic patients at high risk of hypomagnesemia should have total serum (blood) magnesium assessed, and such levels should be repleted (replaced) only if hypomagnesemia can be demonstrated (18).

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