The extensive use of toxic metals in industry and consumer products has resulted in a toxic metal proliferation in our daily lives and environment. Metals are not biodegradable and can remain in the environment to produce a variety of negative effects. Toxic metal exposure has been linked to organ damage and some metals have the potential to cause cancer.
What is Beryllium?
Beryllium is an industrial metal with some attractive attributes. It’s lighter than aluminum and 6x stronger than steel. It’s usually combined with other metals and is a key component in the aerospace and electronics industries. Beryllium is also used in the production of nuclear weapons. With that, you may not be surprised to learn that beryllium is one of the most toxic elements in existence. Beryllium is a Class A EPA carcinogen and exposure can cause Chronic Beryllium Disease, an often fatal lung disease. 
Sources of Beryllium Exposure
Every day, we’re all exposed to slight levels of beryllium in the air we breathe, foods we eat, and water we drink. Industrial sources such as coal power plants and manufacturing plants (including nuclear weapon manufacturing) have released beryllium into the environment. Persons living in or near areas with hazardous waste contamination are at high risk for beryllium exposure. The most common and harmful beryllium exposure occurs from inhalation. 
Chronic Beryllium Disease
Beryllium is extremely toxic to lung tissue. Prolonged exposure can lead to chronic beryllium disease, a debilitating lung disease with a scary similarity to sarcoidosis.  In fact, CBD is sometimes mistaken for sarcoidosis because inhalation of metal dust and fumes (specifically from aluminum, barium, beryllium) can cause granulomatous lung disease which mimics sarcoidosis.  Evidence suggests even very low concentrations of beryllium may cause the disease. A fact known all to well by persons who live near beryllium refineries and even family members of factory workers; as dust is transported via workers’ clothes into their homes. For those susceptible, it is not even known if any level of beryllium exposure can be considered “safe”, exposure must be reduced.  Symptoms of Chronic Beryllium disease include:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Weight Loss or Anorexia
- Enlargement of the Right Side of the Heart
- Heart Disease
Other Dangers of Beryllium Exposure
Beryllium and related compounds have been associated with chromosomal damage.  A study designed to determine if toxic metal exposure was associated with suicide risk among plant workers found that beryllium exposure likely had an increased hazard ratio.  Welding produces fumes that are toxic when inhaled and beryllium is a welding material of concern. Welding fumes cause lung impairment, lung disease, cough, asthma, and lung carcinoma. Eye and skin irritation, malignant melanoma, and negative reproductive effects are also reported.  In pregnant women, exposure arsenic, cadmium, nickel, and beryllium (all carcinogenic) may negatively impact the fetus. Exposure is often cited as contact with second-hand smoke and living close to transportation routes or industrial exhaust. 
Minimize Your Risks from Beryllium Exposure
The use of toxic metals by humans is unlikely to end, this includes the carcinogens- arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium compounds, and nickel compounds. We must take strides to minimize environmental impact and the toxic impact of these materials on our bodies. Your beryllium levels can be determined by blood tests and can also be measured from skin or lung samples. Tests can indicate your levels of beryllium, but cannot tell you where or when exposure happened. If you’re concerned about your beryllium levels, I recommend taking inventory of your environmental risk factors, making the appropriate changes, and performing a chemical and toxic metal cleanse.
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