Sensitization and Chronic Beryllium Disease at a Primary Manufacturing Facility, Part 1: Historical Exposure Reconstruction

By Virji, M. Abbas; Park, Ji Young et al. | Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, May 2012 | Go to article overview

Sensitization and Chronic Beryllium Disease at a Primary Manufacturing Facility, Part 1: Historical Exposure Reconstruction


Virji, M. Abbas, Park, Ji Young, Stefaniak, Aleksandr B., Stanton, Marcia L., Day, Gregory A., Kent, Michael S., Kreiss, Kathleen, Schuler, Christine R., Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health


Objectives Previous epidemiologie studies of beryllium sensitization (BeS) and chronic beryllium disease (CBD) have reported inconsistent exposure-response relationships, likely due to exposure misclassification. The objective of this study was to develop historical estimates of size-selective personal exposure to beryllium for an epidemiologie study.

Methods In 1999, a cross-sectional survey of workers hired after 1 January 1994 was conducted at a beryllium production facility. Personal exposure data from two air sampling surveys conducted in 1999 were used to obtain total, respirable, and submicron particle baseline exposure estimates (BEE) for a job-exposure matrix (JEM). General area air samples collected from 1994-1999 were used to estimate annual changes in exposures (temporal factors) for 24 different process areas. Historical exposure estimates (HEE) were calculated by applying the temporal factors to the BEE. Workers were assigned HEE based on their work history, and their historical exposure profile was summarized as cumulative, average, or highest-ever job exposure.

Results Changes in exposure over a 6-year period were observed in 1 0 of the 24 process areas with an overall mean decline of 1 8% per year. The overall total exposure for study participants over their work tenure ranged from: 0.001-34.44 µg/m3-year, 0.01-16.26 µg/m3, and 0.01-17.54 µg /m3 for cumulative, average, and highestever job, respectively. For respirable exposures, the ranges were: 0.001-15.54 µg/m3-year, 0.01-3.56 µg/m3, 0.01-5.54 µg /m3 for cumulative, average, and highest-ever job, respectively.

Conclusions Using this JEM, exposure-response relationships for BeS and CBD can be explored over a range of exposure metrics such as total, respirable, and submicron beryllium mass concentrations, including summary measures such as cumulative, average, or highest exposures, with the ultimate objective of elucidating a quantitative exposure-response relationship.

Key terms average exposure; cumulative exposure; peak exposure; respirable exposure; submicron exposure; total exposure.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Epidemiologie studies conducted since the early 1990s have often reported elevated prevalences of beryllium sensitization (BeS) and chronic beryllium disease (CBD) associated with specific work processes; however exposure-response relationships have been inconsistent (1, 2). The presence of process-specific health risk suggests that predictive exposure factors exist but may not have been adequately characterized. For example, some studies of BeS and CBD are based on exposure surrogates such as work process or job title due to a lack of exposure data. Seven studies have utilized quantitative exposure data, most often the daily weighted average exposure, a combination of the breathing zone task and general area air samples with task/activity-time data. In the primary beryllium production industry, Kreiss et al (3) and Rosenman et al (4) used daily weighted average, breathing zone, or general area beryllium exposure estimates, and neither study observed exposure-response relationships for BeS or CBD. In primary production, both particle size distribution and beryllium solubility are known to vary among processes (5, 6). Two studies were conducted in the ceramics industry using the daily weighted average, breathing zone, or general area beryllium exposure estimates (7, 8). Both studies reported weak exposureresponse relationships for BeS and CBD; aerosols in the ceramics industry are reported to be in the respirable size range (7) and are poorly soluble in the lung (9). In the nuclear industry, Stange et al (10) and Viet et al (1 1 ) used fixed air head samples (area exposure data from one building) in combination with professional judgment of exposure factors to estimate exposures for jobs in multiple buildings. Stange et al (10) did not observe an exposure-response relationship in their longitudinal analysis, while Viet et al's case-control study (11) reported an exposure-response relationship. …

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