Journal List > Korean J Occup Environ Med > v.20(1) > 1125738

Korean J Occup Environ Med. 2008 Mar;20(1):1-8. Korean.
Published online Jan 29, 2019.  https://doi.org/10.35371/kjoem.2008.20.1.1
Copyright © 2008 The Korean Society of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
An Outbreak of Acute Beryllium Disease in a Compound Metal Alloy Factory
Hyunjoo Kim, Woo Chul Jeong, Young Koo Jee, Dae Seong Kim, Seong Kyu Kang, Sangchul Roh, Kyutag Cho and Donghyun Kim
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, College of Medicine, Dankook University, Korea.
Surgeon General's Office, ROKAF, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Dankook University, Korea.
Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, Korea.
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Dankook University Hospital, Korea.

Email: kuffs@dku.edu
Abstract

OBJECTIVES

We conducted an epidemiological survey to inquire into an outbreak of acute pneumonitis after two reported cases of interstitial lung disease.

METHODS

The study subjects were 45 workers from a compound metal alloy factory. We reviewed the factory's industrial hygiene data along with the results of a special health examination, including pulmonary function tests, simple chest X-rays, and high resolution computed tomography.

RESULTS

The air concentrations of beryllium ranged from 0.42 microgram/m3 to 112.3 microgram/m3, and the mean concentration of urinary beryllium were 1.53±0.79 microgram/g of creatinine in the molding workers, 1.41± 0.50 microgram/g of creatinine in the casting workers, and 1.16±0.53 microgram/g of creatinine in the sorting workers. The rates for cough (p=0.054), dyspnea (p=0.030), and the use of medical services (p=0.018) were higher in the molding workers than in the non-molding workers. The incidence rate of acute interstitial lung disease was higher for the molding process (32.0%) than for the non-molding process (5.0%) (p=0.012). The time of employment for all patients was prior to December 1st, 2002.

CONCLUSIONS

Since most of the patients were molding workers, and all of the patients had worked without a ventilation system, this outbreak of acute interstitial lung disease was regarded as acute beryllium disease. Although the direct cause of the epidemic was the beryllium fumes, the fundamental cause was improper control of the work environment. Therefore, the means for preventing avoidable epidemics of occupational diseases are discussed.

Keywords: Beryllium; Acute interstitial lung disease