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Beryllium may finally be limited, after 40 years

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration first started working to limit the amount of exposure that workers can have to beryllium in 1974. Not much has happened in the ensuing 40 years. However, OSHA is finally going to propose a new limit that would drastically reduce the amount of the mineral that workers can be around.

Beryllium is a metal that is often used in industrial settings. The new proposal would cut the exposure allowances down to about 10 percent of what they are right now.

The reason for the proposal is chronic beryllium disease. This is a lung disease that has been fatal in some cases. Of course, not all cases are deadly, but there is always the chance, and there are around 245 reported new cases every year.

Beryllium is used in some form -- often as part of an alloy --by those making electronics, airplane parts, nuclear weapons and dental implants, just to name a few. It is a very light metal that still has great strength. Therefore, it is quite valuable in these capacities.

So, if OSHA has been trying to do this for 40 years, why is it just happening now? The reasons cited by the agency include resistance from the industry sector, debates over the technical aspects of the policy and stalling on the part of politicians.

Those who suffer from occupational illnesses in North Carolina should know that they may have a right to compensation. This is particularly true in situations where lung disease and other chronic ailments could impact the rest of their lives.

Source: The New York Times, "OSHA to Propose Beryllium Limit in the Works Since 1975," Barry Meier, Aug. 05, 2015

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