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December 15, 1945


JAMA. 1945;129(16):1084-1090. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860500016005

Beryllium poisoning is an industrial disease that demands attention because of the loss in manpower and the fatalities incident to increased production in the beryllium industry. During the past four years 170 cases of poisoning were seen among workers in three plants producing beryllium, its compounds and its alloys. Manifestations included dermatitis, chronic skin ulcer and inflammatory changes in the respiratory tract, skin and respiratory tract changes occurring concurrently or singly. The severest manifestation was diffuse pneumonitis. This caused the death of 5 patients.

The importance of the beryllium industry during the present war and the anticipated postwar demands for civilian products emphasize the need to know the potential hazards of beryllium production. Of great importance in war production is beryllium copper alloy, which is corrosion resistant, nonrusting, nonsparking and nonmagnetic and has good electrical conductivity, high strength and excessive fatigue resistance. It is used in precision instruments, altimeters, airplane