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Beryllium is a lightweight metal with unique mechanical and thermal properties that make it ideal for use in many applications and industries including defense, aerospace, telecommunications, automotive electronics, and medical specialties.
Beryllium is a naturally occurring metal found in beryl and bertrandite ores. Beryllium and beryllium-containing alloys and compounds have been produced commercially in the US since the 1940s. Production of beryllium oxide began in the late 1950s. (Source: NIOSH)
Many dental prosthetic restorations placed in the United States include a variety of base metal alloys. Base metal alloys are composed of metallic elements other than gold, silver, platinum, palladium, ruthenium, iridium, rhodium, and osmium.
Beryllium is added to some base metal alloys for use in crowns, bridges and partial denture frameworks. Incorporation of beryllium into the base metal alloy formulation facilitates castability (by lowering the melting temperature and the surface tension) and increases the porcelain metal bond strength. Beryllium also facilitates the alloys to be electrolytically etchable for bonding veneers in conjunction with resin-bonded restorations.
Exposure to beryllium vapor or particles is associated with a number of diseases from contact dermatitis to chronic granulomatous lung disease, known as chronic beryllium disease (CBD). Additionally, beryllium and some beryllium compounds in vapor and particulate form have been shown to be carcinogenic based on human epidemiological and animal experimental models. Tumors linked to beryllium include lung carcinoma and osteosarcoma.
Potential hazards or risks from exposure to beryllium result from melting, grinding, polishing and finishing procedures. The greatest risk is during casting process in the absence of an adequate exhaust and filtration system. Both the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the ADA have promulgated standard practices for the safe management of beryllium-containing alloys. These practices have focused on dental laboratories where beryllium-containing alloys are routinely used for the fabrication of crowns, bridges and partial dentures.(Source: ADA)
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