A Review of the Available Toxicity Data on Beryllium Metal

Beryllium metal was classified in Europe collectively with beryllium compounds,
e.g. soluble salts. Toxicological equivalence was assumed despite greatly
differing physicochemical properties. Following introduction of the
Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)
regulation, beryllium metal was classified as individual substance and more
investigational efforts to appropriately characterize beryllium metal as a
specific substance apart from soluble beryllium compounds was required. A
literature search on toxicity of beryllium metal was conducted, and the
resulting literature compiled together with the results of a recently performed
study package into a comprehensive data set. Testing performed under
Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development guidelines and Good
Laboratory Practice concluded that beryllium metal was neither a skin irritant,
an eye irritant, a skin sensitizer nor evoked any clinical signs of acute oral
toxicity; discrepancies between the current legal classification of beryllium
metal in the European Union (EU) and the experimental results were identified.
Furthermore, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity were discussed in the context of
the literature data and the new experimental data. It was concluded that
beryllium metal is unlikely to be a classical nonthreshold mutagen. Effects on
DNA repair and morphological cell transformation were observed but need further
investigation to evaluate their relevance in vivo. Animal carcinogenicity
studies deliver evidence of carcinogenicity in the rat; however, lung overload
may be a species-specific confounding factor in the existing studies, and
studies in other species do not give convincing evidence of carcinogenicity.
Epidemiology has been intensively discussed over the last years and has the
problem that the studies base on the same US beryllium production population
and do not distinguish between metal and soluble compounds. It is noted that
the correlation between beryllium exposure and carcinogenicity, even including
the soluble compounds, remains under discussion in the scientific community and
active research is continuing.

More info - Source: Annals of Occupational Hygiene