Beryllium Safety

About Beryllium:
Be is a silver-gray metal that has a low density (1.8477g/cm3), moderately high mp (1287 oC), good stability, and good mechanical properties—particularly specific stiffness, which is 6x greater than steel. In addition, Be transmits x-rays 17x greater than Al, making it a potentially attractive gasket material. The primary forms of Be used are pure metal, metal alloys, and BeO.

Beryllium Hazards:
Chronic beryllium disease - characterized by pulmonary symptoms that include dypsnea, nonproductive cough, and detriments in lung function, resulting from inhalation of airborne Be.

Lung Cancer - Considerable debate about carcinogenicity of Be. It is a demonstrated animal carcinogen and a suspect human carcinogen.

Toxicity - Be is not ordinarily hazardous if ingested.

Occupational Limits:
OSHA General Industry Standard- 8-hour time weighted average 2 mg/m3

For comparison, all the dust from drilling a typical (100 mm)3 sample chamber produces 2 mg of Be particulates.


HPCAT SOP for preparation of Beryllium gaskets

      -Minimize airborne concentrations
      -Reduce potential for and spread of contamination
1)  Personal Protection:

  • Be familiarized with safety procedure before beginning work
  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash hands thoroughly after contact with Be

2) Control Be particulates:

  • Clear off a localized workspace
  • Cover workspace with paper
  • Confine work to a small, centralized area on paper
  • Use tape to trap Be particulates

            -Put tape on back side of gasket holder to ensure Be dust does not
              escape out back of holder
            -Use tape to ‘blot’ gasket (2x) before checking under microscope
            -Use tape to create a sticky area for putting drill tips  

3) Proper Clean-up procedure:

  • Wrap-up contaminated paper and dispose in a clearly labeled plastic bag
  • Give Be waste to Beryllium Safety Contact Person

 *Info was taken from “Beryllium Good Practice Guide.” To look at the guide, talk to Beryllium Safety Contact Person