Long-term follow-up of beryllium sensitized workers from a single employer

Duggal, Mona; Deubner, David C.; Curtis, Anne M.; Cullen, Mark R.
January 2010
BMC Public Health;2010, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Up to 12% of beryllium-exposed American workers would test positive on beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test (BeLPT) screening, but the implications of sensitization remain uncertain. Methods: Seventy two current and former employees of a beryllium manufacturer, including 22 with pathologic changes of chronic beryllium disease (CBD), and 50 without, with a confirmed positive test were followed-up for 7.4 +/-3.1 years. Results: Beyond predicted effects of aging, flow rates and lung volumes changed little from baseline, while DLCO dropped 17.4% of predicted on average. Despite this group decline, only 8 subjects (11.1%) demonstrated physiologic or radiologic abnormalities typical of CBD. Other than baseline status, no clinical or laboratory feature distinguished those who clinically manifested CBD at follow-up from those who did not. Conclusions: The clinical outlook remains favorable for beryllium-sensitized individuals over the first 5-12 years. However, declines in DLCO may presage further and more serious clinical manifestations in the future. These conclusions are tempered by the possibility of selection bias and other study limitations.


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