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Evaluating Workplace Exposures

The amount of beryllium dust or other airborne beryllium particulate released in the processing of a beryllium product determines the extent of exposure control needed to protect workers. To determine the levels of beryllium exposures in a given workplace, the collection of air samples is necessary. Measurements may be made both of the beryllium concentrations encountered by individual workers and of the levels in work areas. An industrial hygienist or other qualified professional should be used to establish a sampling plan. The primary supplier, member state authorities and BeST can provide references or assistance as needed.

The air-sampling survey will identify concentrations expressed as micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air (µg/m3). The employer must compare the beryllium levels found in the survey with the legally enforceable limits imposed by the standard adopted for occupational exposure to beryllium by each member state. Besides serving as an index of compliance, the survey results will, if exposure measurements are made at individual operations, show where to concentrate control efforts. A well-designed control program strives to reduce exposure to as low as reasonably achievable, not merely reduce it to some numerical maximum. The Beryllium Science & Technology has developed an Exposure Assessment Strategy Tool that can be used as a guide and also as a training tool. (see “Exposure Assessment Strategies Tool & Training Aid“). In addition, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has developed a more complex guide that can also be used; see the “Occupational Exposure Estimation“.