Occupational exposure to beryllium in Switzerland : exposed workers and occupations at risk


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Occupational exposure to beryllium in Switzerland : exposed workers and occupations at risk
Titre de la conférence
Joint Annual Meeting of the Swiss Respiratory Society, Swiss Society of Occupational Medicine, Swiss Paediatric Respiratory Society, Swiss Society for Thoracic Surgery, Davos (Switzerland), April 16/17, 2009
Berode Michèle, Lazor Romain, Lavoué Jérôme, Bieler Gilles, Aubert Vincent, Brutsche Martin, Danuser Brigitta
Statut éditorial
Date de publication
Swiss Medical Weekly
Introduction: Beryllium (Be) is increasingly used in various industrial applications. Occupational exposure to Be may lead to chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a pulmonary granulomatous disorder closely similar to sarcoidosis, which develop in 1 to 15% of exposed workers. Although Switzerland is one of the major Be importers worldwide, little information is available about occurrence of exposure and the number of workers exposed in this country. Objectives: 1) evaluate the number of workers potentially exposed to Be in Switzerland; 2) construct a screening tool to allow potential Be exposure detection in a clinical setting.
Methods: After identification of industrial sectors involving beryllium exposure based on expert reports and scientific literature, an estimation of the number of workers employed in these relevant industries was made using data from the Swiss federal population census and registries of economic activities. A second analysis was performed to estimate the fraction of workers really exposed to Be in each industrial sector. This adjustment was made according to the results of a French survey (INRS, Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité) conducted by questionnaire addressed to 4500 companies in relevant industries on their use of beryllium and other issues such as percentage of employees really exposed. These realistic data were used to develop a self-administrated screening questionnaire allowed to identify patients with possible Be exposure.
Results: In Switzerland, the number of workers employed in industries using Be was nearly 150 000. The estimated number of workers exposed to beryllium in these industries ranged from 2000 to 4000. Relevant sectors were: microengineering, precision turning, watchmaking and metal waste treatment and recycling. The validation of the self-administrated questionnaire containing a list of jobs and leisure activities associated with potential Be exposure is in progress within the framework of a national study.
Conclusions: The number of workers potentially exposed to Be in Switzerland is rather high compared to estimations for other industrialized countries and might constitute an underestimated occupational health problem. Undetected Be exposure in patients with sarcoidosis may occur and result in misdiagnosis. Once validated, the self-administrated questionnaire could be used by clinicians to screen for Be exposure in patients with granulomatous lung disorders.
Beryllium , Workplace , Occupational Exposure , Occupational Diseases
Création de la notice
27/01/2010 13:20
Dernière modification de la notice
20/08/2019 16:25
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