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Beryllium

DESIGNATIONS

CAS No.: 7440-41-7
Registry name: Beryllium
Chemical name: Beryllium
Synonyms, Trade names: Glycinium
Chemical name (German): Beryllium
Chemical name (French): Bryllium
Appearance: hard, shiny, silvery white metal

BASIC CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL DATA

Chemical symbol: Be
Rel. atomic mass: 9.01 g
Density: 1.848 g/cm3 at 20C
Boiling point: 2,970C
Melting point: 1,287C
Vapour pressure: 4.84 Pa at 1287C
Explosion limits: beryllium dusts may form explosive mixtures with air
Odour threshold: none
Solvolysis/solubility: beryllium itself is virtually insoluble in water but soluble in diluted mineral acids; beryllium hydroxide, beryllium oxide: insoluble in water, beryllium nitrate: 1,033 g/l (at 20C), beryllium sulphate 424 g/l (at 25C)

ORIGIN AND USE

Usage:
Beryllium is used in nuclear engineering, the construction of aircrafts and rockets, radiology and metallurgy.

Origin/derivation:
Beryllium is found in nature in various mineral compounds. It makes up approx. 0.006 % of the Earth's crust. It can be obtained as a pure metal by the sulphate, fluoride or chloride process from beryl (3BeO.Al2O3.6SiO2)

Production figures:
The annual worldwide production of beryllium and its compounds is 3,000 - 4,000 t (acc. KOCH, 1989).

Emissions:
Approx. 8,000 t per annum (acc. KOCH, 1989)

Toxicity

Humans: TCLo 300 mg/m3, inhalation acc. UBA, 1986
LDLo 0.1 mg/m3, inhalation acc. KOCH, 1989
Absorption of 0.025 mg/m3 no toxic effect acc. KOCH, 1989
Mammals:
Rat LD50 9.7 mg/kg, oral acc. KOCH, 1989
LD50 0.44 mg/kg, intravenous acc. KOCH, 1989
LD50 0.50 mg/kg, intravenous acc. UBA, 1986
LD50 0.19 mg/m3, inhalation acc. KOCH, 1989
Aquatic organisms:
Small crustaceans LC10 10 mg/l acc. UBA, 1986
LC50 18 mg/l acc. UBA, 1986
LC100 50 mg/l acc. UBA, 1986

Characteristic effects:

Humans/mammals: Beryllium and its compounds are extremely poisonous. Poisoning is caused mainly by the inhalation of dust or by skin contact and causes irritation of and damage to the respiratory organs (bronchitis, pneumonia, dermatitis, the so called "beryllium disease"). Metal splinters or dusts which get into the skin cause beryllium ulcers and result in the most serious of known skin diseases. Oral application seldom causes poisoning since there is only slight resorption of beryllium. Chronic poisoning can be fatal. Pulmonary carcinomas induced in animal experiments. In the Federal Republic of Germany occupational illness/disease due to beryllium or its compounds must be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Long-term exposure causes beryllium accumulation in the bones and liver. With chronic intake, the latent period may be more than 5 years.

ENVIRONMENTAL BEHAVIOUR

Water:
In water, the substance is found almost exclusively as mineral grains. A solution may be formed under acid conditions which inhibits the self-purification capability of surface water and groundwater from a concentration of 0.01 mg/l. Thus, beryllium poses a great hazard to fish and micro-organisms.

Air:
Beryllium is released into the atmosphere by emissions from companies processing beryllium. It is also liberated when coal is burned (on average 0.1-7 mg/kg; acc. DVGW, 1985).

Soil:
Soils are accumulation sinks.

Food chain:
Beryllium is accumulated in aquatic organisms (bioaccumulation factor: 1,000). In addition to foodstuffs, beryllium may also be absorbed in considerable quantities from drinking water.

ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS

Medium/acceptor Sector Country/organ.

Status

Value Cat. Remarks Source
Water: Surface D

(G)

0.0001 mg/l   For natural treatm. acc. DVGW, 1985
Surface D

(G)

0.0002 mg/l   For phys.-chem. treatm. acc. DVGW, 1985
Drinkw SU   0.0002 mg/l   1970 acc. DVGW, 1985
Irrigation D

(G)

0.1 mg/l   For field culture acc. DVGW, 1985
Irrigation D

(G)

0.05 mg/l   For cultivation under glass acc. DVGW, 1985
Irrigation USA

(G)

0.5 mg/l   1968 acc. DVGW, 1985
Irrigation USA

(G)

1 mg/l   1968, short-time value acc. DVGW, 1985
Soil:   D

G

10 mg/kg   in cultivated soils acc. KLOKE, 1988
Air: Emiss. D

L

0.1 mg/m3   mass flow > 0.5 g/h1) acc. TA Luft, 1986
  IL   0.00001 mg/m3   24 h acc. STERN, 1986
  USA   0.00001 mg/m3   24 h acc. MERIAN, 1984
  YU   0.00001 mg/m3   24 h acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp AUS

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp B

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp BG

(L)

0.001 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp CH

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp CS

(L)

0.001 mg/m3   Long-time value acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp CS

(L)

0.002 mg/m3   Short-time value acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp D

L

0.005 mg/m3 TRK Grinding of metal DFG, 1989
Workp D

L

0.002 mg/m3 TRK Other work DFG, 1989
Workp DDR

(L)

0.002 mg/m3 MAK Short & long-time value acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp H

(L)

0.001 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp I

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp J

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp NL

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp PL

(L)

0.001 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp RO

(L)

0.001 mg/m3   Short-time value acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp S

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp SF

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984
Workp SU

(L)

0.001 mg/m3     acc. SORBE, 1989
Workp USA

(L)

0.002 mg/m3 TWA   ACGIH, 1986
Workp YU

(L)

0.002 mg/m3     acc. MERIAN, 1984

Note:
The use of beryllium compounds in cosmetics is prohibited in the Federal Republic of Germany.
1) Be and its compounds in respirable form, stated as Be

Comparison/reference values

Medium/origin Country Value Source
Surface/groundwater:
Drinking water (1961-1966) USA 0.01-0.7 g/l acc. DVGW, 1985
Upper Palatinate Forest D 1-12 g/l acc. DVGW, 1985
Lake Constance (1971-1973) D < 0.2 g/l acc. DVGW, 1985
Rhine (Lobith, 1983) D 0.01-0.09 g/l acc. DVGW, 1985
Sediments:
Lake Baldeney, Ruhr (1975) D 1.4-1.7 mg/kg acc. DVGW, 1985
Air:
Atmosphere   0.5-0.8 ng/m3 acc. KOCH, 1989
Cigarette smoke   0.47-0.74 g/cigarette acc. KOCH, 1989

Assessment/comments

Due to the toxicity and the carcinogenic potential of beryllium, it is to be ensured that there is no long-term contamination of drinking water in particular. Industrial waste water should be filtered and the beryllium recycled. Direct skin contact is to be avoided when handling beryllium and its compounds.


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