Medical Definition of Beryllium

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Beryllium: A toxic metal found in ores containing other elements that is used in making metal alloys for nuclear reactors and the aerospace industry. Acute exposure to beryllium fumes can cause a severe, sometimes fatal pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs). Chronic overexposure to beryllium is more common and causes a diffuse inflammatory reaction in the lungs resulting in granulomas and fibrosis of the lungs and, in time, increasing shortness of breath. Beryllium poisoning is termed berylliosis.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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