May 1999

Beryllium screening program expanded
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, under a program funded by DOE, has recently expanded their nationwide beryllium screening program to include all former ORNL employees—retired and separated—who worked with beryllium.

Beryllium was used in the production of nuclear weapons and for use in experimental reactors. In its solid metallic state, beryllium poses no health threat, but in certain processing of beryllium, dust or fumes can be produced. Exposure to beryllium in these forms may result in the potential development of chronic beryllium disease, or CBD.

All known former ORNL employees that worked with beryllium will be notified by mail and offered the initial beryllium screening tests. Participation in the program and testing is voluntary. Initial testing for former beryllium workers will be performed in Oak Ridge by the ORISE Center for Epidemiologic Research under the direction of Donna Cragle. The screening program consists of a blood test and a brief questionnaire. The entire process only takes a few minutes and will be paid for by DOE. Individuals who test positive for increased sensitivity to beryllium will be offered more extensive testing for CBD.

Questions concerning the ORISE beryllium testing program should be directed to Deborah Ringley at (423) 576-3361. Information may also be obtained by writing to DOE Former Worker Beryllium Screening Program, ORISE/CER, P.O. Box 117, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-0017.