Lab Workers Face Beryllium Exposure

CHICAGO-Several workers at Argonne National Laboratory have tested positive for blood abnormalities after being exposed to beryllium-a toxic metal.

Argonne, owned by the US Department of Energy, is located in suburban Chicago. The center does research on high-energy physics, chemistry, and materials science. Workers at the site include: a welder, a scientist, a truck driver, a technician, and a clerical worker. This is the first time cases of beryllium exposure have been discovered at the lab. The cases were found during a national beryllium-exposure campaign by the Energy Department. More than 27,000 workers were screened nationally, with 183 reportedly having beryllium disease and 546 having blood abnormalities.

Beryllium disease is an incurable lung illness that is caused after the lightweight metal is inhaled. Beryllium is used in the production of nuclear weapons and other experiments.

Officials at the laboratory report more than 1,700 workers have potentially been exposed to the metal.

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