The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking And Public Hearings that would amend its chronic beryllium disease (CBD) prevention program regulation by reducing the number of workers who are currently exposed to beryllium, minimizing the potential for and levels of worker exposure, and establishing medical surveillance to monitor the health of beryllium-exposed workers.

According to OSHA, inhaling or contacting beryllium can cause an immune response that results in an individual becoming sensitized to beryllium. Individuals with beryllium sensitization can develop a debilitating disease of the lungs called chronic beryllium disease (CBD) if they inhale airborne beryllium after becoming sensitized. Beryllium-exposed workers may also develop other adverse health effects such as acute beryllium disease, and lung cancer.

The proposed amendments would apply to DOE employees who are, were, or potentially were exposed to beryllium at DOE sites. They would establish continual monitoring of the program’s effectiveness in preventing CBD and require data collection to improve understanding of the causes of the disease.

DOE also proposes:

  • lowering the action level that triggers controls and protective measures when workers are exposed at or above it from 0.2 µg/m3 to 0.05 µg/m3 and
  • revising the training requirements for beryllium-associated workers.

The DOE is accepting comments on the rule until Sept. 6, 2016. For more information, see the Federal Register notice