The world's largest producer and supplier of beryllium and workers exposed to the highly toxic mineral decided not to wait any longer for federal OSHA to draft a proposed worker safety rule on the hazard. Last week, the United Steelworkers International Union and Materion Brush (the only U.S. manufacturer) sent the complete text of a draft regulation to the head of Labor Department's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Individuals exposed to the metal may become immunologically sensitized to it, and develop a unique disabling, chronic lung disease. Beryllium is also associated with lung cancer. The super resilient and lightweight metal is used principally in the aerospace industry and national defense, but has also found its way into consumer product applications.
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