Risk of beryllium sensitization in a low-exposed former nuclear weapons cohort from the cold war era

Marek A. Mikulski, Stephanie A. Leonard, Wayne T. Sanderson, Patrick G. Hartley, Nancy L. Sprince, Laurence J. Fuortes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: The nuclear weapons industry has long been known as a source of beryllium exposure. +Methods: A total of 1,004 former workers from a nuclear weapons assembly site in the Midwest were screened for sensitization to beryllium (BeS). The screenings were part of the Department of Energy (DOE) Former Worker Program established in 1996. +Results: Twenty-three (2.3%) workers were found sensitized to beryllium and this prevalence was comparable to other DOE sites. Occasional, direct exposure to beryllium through machining and grinding of copper-beryllium (Cu-Be) 2% alloy tools was found to increase the risk of sensitization compared to background exposure (OR=3.83; 95% CI: 1.04-14.03) with a statistically significant trend (P=0.03) revealing that particular jobs are associated with sensitization. Exposure potential in this study was estimated based on job titles and not personal exposure information. +Conclusions: These results confirm the need to screen workers using beryllium alloy tools in other industries and for consideration of altering work practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-204
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Beryllium
  • Beryllium exposure assessment
  • Beryllium sensitization
  • Former worker program
  • Medical screenings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk of beryllium sensitization in a low-exposed former nuclear weapons cohort from the cold war era'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this