Beryllium surface levels in a military ammunition plant

Wayne T. Sanderson, Stephanie Leonard, Darrin Ott, Laurence Fuortes, William Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the presence of beryllium surface contamination in a U.S. conventional munitions plant as an indicator of possible past beryllium airborne and skin exposure and used these measurements to classify job categories by potential level of exposure. Surface samples were collected from production and nonproduction areas of the plant and at regional industrial reference sites with no known history of beryllium use. Surface samples of premoistened wiping material were analyzed for beryllium mass content using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and results expressed as micrograms of beryllium per 100 square centimeters (μg/100 cm2). Beryllium was detected in 87% of samples collected at the munitions plant and in 72% of the samples collected at regional reference sites. Two munitions plant samples from areas near sanders and grinders were above 3.0 μg/100 cm2 (U.S. Department of Energy surface contamination limit). The highest surface level found at the reference sites was 0.44 μg/100 cm2. Workers in areas where beryllium-containing alloy tools were sanded or ground, but not other work areas, may have been exposed to airborne beryllium concentrations above levels encountered in other industries where metal work is conducted. Surface sampling provided information useful for categorizing munitions plant jobs by level of past beryllium airborne and skin exposure and, subsequently, for identifying employees within exposure strata to be screened for beryllium sensitization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-481
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Airborne particles
  • Munitions workers
  • Sanding and grinding
  • Surface sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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