Dental Lab Workers Prone to Toxic Metal PoisoningApr 22, 2002 | Healthscout Dental lab workers who work on crowns, bridges or dental frames are prone to inhaling dust laden with the toxic metal beryllium, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says.
Today's OSHA warning is prompted by the diagnosis of chronic beryllium disease in an unnamed dental lab technician, reports the Associated Press. The lung disease -- including symptoms of dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss and fever -- is debilitating and often fatal. It can show up months or years after exposure.
OSHA's current regulations -- which the agency says it's now reviewing -- specify that workers can't be exposed to more than 2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air. Not all metals used in dental work contain beryllium, and lab workers should ask about the contents of the alloys they are using, OSHA says.