Satisfactory Essays

Beryllium is a highly toxic metal and if exposed to it, at or above the threshold values, it can lead to a chronic beryllium disease (CBD) (i.e. berylliosis) or an acute beryllium disease. Toxic exposure to beryllium is most often thru an inhalation pathway. Beryllium has a variety of effects. Some beryllium combines with a protein and is deposited in the liver, spleen and kidneys, but the beryllium when bound with a biological protein, a hapten, can result in the chronic form of the disease which is believed to be a delayed hypersensitivity immune response. The major toxicological effects of beryllium are on the respiratory tract,specifically the lungs and their alveoli.

Beryllium and its unique characteristic led to it being used widely in a variety of industries prior to is know toxic effects. Today it is know that beryllium is a highly toxic material which results in devastating toxic effects on the lungs. There has been drastic increases in the regulation in beryllium use so as to protect those that directly handle and work with the metal. With theses regulations, beryllium is fairly safe to work with and use in a variety of products and industries. In the following text, there will be a description of beryllium confusing history and toxic effects on the respiratory system of man.

Beryllium has the symbol Be. In the older chemical literature, beryllium is called glucinium after the Greek word glykys meaning sweet, because of Vauquelin's initial description and observation of Beryllium. Beryllium's atomic number is 4, its atomic weight is 9.01 and in its pure metal form it melts at 1278 degrees Celsius.

The Beryllium element, an alkaline earth metal which belongs to group II of the periodic table, was first discovered in 1798 by L.M. Vauquelin. Vauquelin,a French chemist, was doing work with aluminum and noticed a white powder that was nothing like that of aluminum or any of its derivatives. Vauquelin named this mystery powder, gluinium because of its sweet taste was like that of glucose. In 1828, Wohler, a German metallurgist reduced it to its metallic form and renamed it beryllium.(figure 2)

There was no commercial application of beryllium until 1918 when Cooper patented a beryllium-aluminum alloy, which turn into the 'jump-start', into extending beryllium's application.

Following Cooper's patent of the beryllium alloy, Charles II in 1921, was intrigued by beryllium's light weight, extreme stiffness, high heat absorption and interesting nuclear cross section.
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