Dr. Lee Newman, director of the Center for Health, Work & Environment, has studied beryllium and its effect on workers for nearly 30 years. The lightweight metal is used to make computers, satellites, aircraft and more, and exposure to its dust particles is toxic.
In August 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a federal standard to protect American workers from beryllium exposure. OSHA relied on more than 100 scientific research papers authored by Dr. Newman and his colleagues to justify the need for regulation.
Last week, OSHA established a new exposure limit — a “new standard — 10 times stronger than the old one established in the 1940s” that will keep more than 62,000 workers safer and healthier.
“It is not just about the people who die; it’s about the years that people live with the terrible suffering of not being able to breathe, having chronic coughs, having the terrible fatigue that comes with chronic beryllium disease,” Dr. Newman said. “It’s a very slow, wasting lung disease.”
Dr. Newman said the new rule will save workers’ lives and reduce tremendous suffering.
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