What is Beryllium?

Beryllium is an element designated number 4 on the periodic table. Its atomic symbol is Be.
Beryllium is used primarily in the aerospace industry due to its high flexibility, thermal stability and conductivity. It is often used in the production of missiles, aircraft, space vehicles and communication satellites. Due to its transparency to X-rays it is often found as a material used for X-ray equipment.

What are the dangers associated with Beryllium?

Beryllium is a highly toxic substance when handled. Depending on the frequency, duration and amount of beryllium an individual is exposed to, it can be highly dangerous. It is classified as a level 1 carcinogen, in that it causes cancer in animals, and when handling the element the utmost care should be involved. Prolonged exposure to Beryllium can cause berylliosis.

What is Berylliosis?

Berylliosis is a chronic lung condition caused by exposure to beryllium. They symptoms of berylliosis include coughing and shortness of breath; chest pain; joint aches; weight loss; and fever. Often times berylliosis takes on the same symptoms as other chronic lung diseases such as tuberculosis and sacroidosis. It may take up to ten years for the symptoms of berylliosis to become present although one incidence of exposure can trigger berylliosis.

In 2006 a class action lawsuit brought by workers exposed to Beryllium was brought against Lockheed Martin, an aerospace manufacturer, claiming that the workers developed berylliosis from their prolonged exposure to Beryllium while working for Lockheed Martin. In a state court in Georgia the claim was dismissed for failure to state a claim. The court reasoned that the plaintiffs only alleged "Beryllium desensitization" and that their conditions did not manifest into anything that was actionable.  The court went on to conclude that strictly because one is sensitive to their exposure to Beryllium does not necessarily mean that they have berylliosis. In summary it can be said that the action was not ripe and if the plaintiffs had developed diagnosable berylliosis the court may not have dismissed the action.
As of 2006 Boeing employees were assembling to file a class action suit against the company for exposure to Beryllium and their subsequent diagnosis with berylliosis. It is undetermined whether their conditions will amount to, what the earlier Georgia court found, "Beryllium sensitivity" or whether the plaintiffs have full scale berylliosis.
What to do if exposed to Beryllium?

If you or someone you known has been exposed to Beryllium either intentionally or unintentionally it could result in berylliosis. It is important that you get diagnosed immediately if you develop any of the symptoms associated with the illness, as described above. Where the symptoms of berylliosis may take years to manifest, it is important that you do not sleep on your rights. The statute of limitations for injury actions; toxic torts in this situation, have a specified time frame that is delegated by the states.  Consult an attorney about your rights and about the possibility of an action for damages.




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