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What is chronic beryllium disease?

Beryllium, which is a material used in some dental offices, is not generally dangerous if it's handled correctly. However, exposure over time can lead to something called Chronic Beryllium Disease. This disease is caused by working with dental alloys containing the element. Workers who are exposed, like dental laboratory technicians, are particularly at risk for this disease.

If you're suffering from this disease and considering filing a case with the help of your attorney, you should know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does have permissible exposure limits for working with beryllium. If those limits were not met, then it's possible that you may have a case against your employer as well as for workers' compensation.

When you work with beryllium, by law, you can be exposed to 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air in an 8-hour average. You can also be exposed to greater amounts for shorter times, but the peak, which is 25 μg/m3 for up to 30 minutes, is the absolute most you should be exposed.

Chronic beryllium disease typically affects the lungs. This is because as a technician, it's more likely for you to breathe in the dust containing the element. Chronic beryllium disease may have a slow onset and develop years after your exposure to beryllium. There's no known amount of beryllium likely to cause the disease, but it's been suggested that even meeting current regulations could result in the disease over time.

Who develops CBD? Typically, it's those who have become sensitized to the element. That means you'd react with an allergic-like reaction either weeks or months after being exposed. In some cases, it could take years for the reaction to take place. You can be tested for the sensitivity for the sake of your case.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Preventing Adverse Health Effects From Exposure to Beryllium in Dental Laboratories," accessed Oct. 08, 2015

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