Commentary and update: Chemical pneumonia in workers extracting beryllium oxide1

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Nearly 1,000 cases of beryllium-related disease have been reported in the United States since the first three cases were reported by VanOrdstrand and his associates in 1943. In addition to acute chemical pneumonitis, beryllium exposure has also resulted in berylliosis, a chronic granulomatous disease. The largest number of berylliosis cases was reported in the fluorescent lamp industry where beryllium was used in phosphors until 1949. Other cases occurred due to air pollution in the vicinity of beryllium-producing factories and exposure of family members to beryllium dust brought home on contaminated work clothes. Many of the peculiar epidemiologic features of both the acute and chronic forms of beryllium disease can be explained by its sensitizing characteristics. The standards that were established for the control of beryllium disease in the later 1940s have been remarkably effective and have now been adopted worldwide.



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