The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union (PACE) have filed a petition with OSHA demanding lower workplace exposure limits for beryllium, a commonly used material in products such as sporting goods, dental equipment and airline parts.

The suit seeks to reduce the acceptable federal exposure standard from 2 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms. OSHA's current exposure limit for beryllium was adopted in 1970 based upon standards set by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1949.

The groups claim stricter limits are needed to prevent chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a lung condition characterized by weakness, fatigue and heart failure caused by an allergic reaction to beryllium.