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Warning! Inhaling beryllium dust or fumes can be fatal.
Beryllium is a confirmed human carcinogen. The critical effects of exposure to beryllium are lung cancer and berylliosis. The present ACGIH TLV (the legal exposure limit) for beryllium is only 2 micrograms of the element per cubic meter of inhaled air and is under review. Therefore, exposure to dust, fumes and substances containing beryllium should be avoided or strictly monitored and controlled.
Beryllium has found widespread use because of some desirable properties: it is lightweight, non-magnetic and a good electrical conductor, and withstands high temperature. A few examples of items found in the federal jurisdiction that might contain beryllium are: aircraft brakes; inertial guidance systems and gyroscopes; windshield frames of high-speed (military) aircraft; neutron moderators in nuclear reactors; and springs, switches and connectors in radar and telecommunications equipment.
Comprehensive information on the health effects of beryllium and sources of exposure can be found in many articles. Two of them are: