Beryllium medical surveillance at a former nuclear weapons facility during cleanup operations

J Occup Environ Med. 2004 Sep;46(9):953-61. doi: 10.1097/


Despite increasing need to remediate beryllium-contaminated buildings in industry, little is known about the magnitude of risk associated with beryllium abatement or the merits of beryllium medical surveillance for cleanup workers. We examined beryllium lymphocyte proliferation tests and reviewed medical evaluations on workers at a nuclear weapons facility during the process of decontamination and decommissioning. Of 2,221 workers, 19 (0.8%) were beryllium sensitized based on two or more abnormal beryllium lymphocyte proliferation tests. Eight of 19 sensitized individuals underwent full clinical evaluation, of whom two were diagnosed with chronic beryllium disease (CBD). Notably, seven beryllium sensitized and CBD cases were hired after the start of cleanup operations. Beryllium medical surveillance detects sensitization and CBD in cleanup workers. Exposure controls and medical surveillance need to be 'broad-based' to include all cleanup workers involved in beryllium-contaminated building remediation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Berylliosis / diagnosis
  • Berylliosis / epidemiology*
  • Berylliosis / immunology
  • Beryllium / analysis*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Warfare*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Risk


  • Beryllium