Ohio Group Asks OSHA To Probe Beryllium Warning Violations

Ohio Citizen Action, the state's largest environmental group, wants OSHA to launch an immediate investigation into dental lab\r\nsuppliers for violating the federal Hazard Communication Standard.

Ohio Citizen Action, the state''s largest environmental group, is asking OSHA to launch an immediate investigation into four dental lab suppliers for violating the federal Hazard Communication Standard.

The citizens group also released a report showing dental lab employees are working with metal beryllium and likely have little knowledge of its toxicity.

The groups says that some dental laboratory suppliers are withholding live-saving information from the workers handling beryllium.

Beryllium exposure can cause beryllium disease and cancer.

"Dental laboratory technicians are being lied to about the health hazards of beryllium," said Amy Ryder, Cleveland director of Ohio Citizen Action.

Federal law requires companies to prepare and distribute Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to customers handling their materials.

Citizen Action''s report reviewed MSDS from five dental laboratory suppliers and surveyed 51 dental laboratories in the Cleveland area.

Of the five MSDS collected, four failed to mention beryllium disease or accurately warn of the cancer risk, said Citizen Action.

In June 1993, an article in the American Review of Respiratory Diseases estimated "approximately 2,200 dental laboratory technicians in the United States could potentially develop chronic beryllium disease if proper measures are not taken to minimize exposure."

Citizen Action''s report found that 57 percent of the employees working in the Cleveland labs surveyed could have been exposed to beryllium dust or fumes.

Beryllium is a hard, light-weight material used in military hardware, cars and trucks, electronics and dental work.

The largest producer of beryllium, Brush Wellman, is headquartered in Cleveland.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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