Occupational Asthma Reference

Frye BC, Quartucci MC, Rakete MS, Grubanovic PA, Höhne MK, Mangold PF, Gieré MR, Müller-Quernheim PJ, Zissel MG, PhD, A Cluster of Beryllium Sensitization Traced to the Presence of Beryllium in Concrete Dust, Chest, 2021;159:1084-1093,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2020.09.073
(Plain text: Frye BC, Quartucci MC, Rakete MS, Grubanovic PA, Hohne MK, Mangold PF, Giere MR, Muller-Quernheim PJ, Zissel MG, PhD, A Cluster of Beryllium Sensitization Traced to the Presence of Beryllium in Concrete Dust, Chest)

Keywords: chronic beryllium disease, concrete dust, dust measurements, Germany

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Chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a granulomatous disease with similarities to sarcoidosis, arises only in individuals exposed to beryllium. Inhaled beryllium can elicit a T-cell-dominated alveolitis leading nonnecrotizing granulomata. CBD can be distinguished from sarcoidosis by demonstrating beryllium sensitization in a lymphocyte proliferation test.
Research Question
Beryllium exposure usually occurs in an occupational setting. Because of the diagnosis of CBD in a patient without evident beryllium exposure, we performed a beryllium-lymphocyte proliferation test (BeLPT) among his work colleagues.
Study Design and Methods
This field study investigated a cohort of work colleagues without obvious beryllium exposure. Twenty-one of 30 individuals were assessed in our outpatient clinic for beryllium sensitization. Therefore, BeLPT was performed with freshly collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Data were extracted from clinical charts, including geographical data. Beryllium content in dust samples collected at the workplace was measured by graphite-furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy and was compared with samples from different areas of Germany.
For the initial patient, the diagnosis of sarcoidosis was reclassified as CBD based on two positive BeLPT results. Assessment of his workplace did not identify a source of beryllium. However, BeLPTs performed on his workmates demonstrated beryllium sensitization in 5 of 21 individuals, suggesting a local beryllium source. Concrete dust obtained from the building yard, the workplace of the index patient, contained high amounts of beryllium (1138 ± 162 µg/kg), whereas dust from other localities (control samples) showed much lower beryllium content (range, 147 ± 18-452 ± 206 µg/kg). Notably, the control dust collected from different places all over Germany exhibit different beryllium concentrations.
We describe a cluster of beryllium-sensitized workers from an industry not related to beryllium caused by environmental exposure to beryllium-containing concrete dust, which exhibited markedly elevated beryllium content. Importantly, analyses of dust samples collected from different localities showed that they contain markedly different amounts of beryllium. Thus, besides workplace-related exposure, environmental factors also are capable of eliciting a beryllium sensitization.

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