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DOE’s Proposed Beryllium Rule
A proposed rule published June 7 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would amend the agency’s regulation governing its chronic beryllium disease prevention program (CBDPP). The rule was published approximately one year after OSHA proposed a new PEL for beryllium.
DOE’s proposal would establish a new action level at DOE sites and new requirements for medical surveillance and inclusion of employees in the CBDPP. According to DOE, the proposed rule is intended to prevent beryllium sensitization, a condition that occurs in a subset of exposed individuals in whom beryllium exposure triggers a response from the body’s immune system. Beryllium sensitization is thought to be a precursor to chronic beryllium disease (CBD), which affects the lungs. Information about DOE’s proposed rule appears below. The public comment period ends Sept. 6.
Federal Register: “Individuals with CBD may experience mild to severe forms of disease. In severe cases, the affected individuals may be permanently and totally disabled. Mortality of the sensitized individuals directly attributable to CBD and its complications is estimated to be 30 percent. This estimate is based upon historical data reflecting both the higher levels of exposure that occurred in the workplace prior to regulation of workplace exposure to beryllium in the late 1940s and a tracking of the medical history of subjects of CBD over several decades. DOE’s recent experience with improved diagnoses and treatments may result in a lower mortality rate for CBD cases.”
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Editor's Note: Fumes vs. Vapors
The original wording from the Center for Public Integrity's report "Common Solvent Keeps Killing Workers, Consumers" mistakenly refers to "fumes" in a context where "vapors" is the correct term. The Synergist has corrected this error in the digital edition.
Unfortunately, the error found its way into the print version of the November issue. The Synergist regrets the error and will publish a correction in the December issue.
Ed Rutkowski, editor