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1.  Beryllium Metal I. Experimental Results on Acute Oral Toxicity, Local Skin and Eye Effects, and Genotoxicity 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2010;55(1):30-42.
The toxicity of soluble metal compounds is often different from that of the parent metal. Since no reliable data on acute toxicity, local effects, and mutagenicity of beryllium metal have ever been generated, beryllium metal powder was tested according to the respective Organisation for Economical Co-Operation and Development (OECD) guidelines. Acute oral toxicity of beryllium metal was investigated in rats and local effects on skin and eye in rabbits. Skin-sensitizing properties were investigated in guinea pigs (maximization method). Basic knowledge about systemic bioavailability is important for the design of genotoxicity tests on poorly soluble substances. Therefore, it was necessary to experimentally compare the capacities of beryllium chloride and beryllium metal to form ions under simulated human lung conditions. Solubility of beryllium metal in artificial lung fluid was low, while solubility in artificial lysosomal fluid was moderate. Beryllium chloride dissolution kinetics were largely different, and thus, metal extracts were used in the in vitro genotoxicity tests. Genotoxicity was investigated in vitro in a bacterial reverse mutagenicity assay, a mammalian cell gene mutation assay, a mammalian cell chromosome aberration assay, and an unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) assay. In addition, cell transformation was tested in a Syrian hamster embryo cell assay, and potential inhibition of DNA repair was tested by modification of the UDS assay. Beryllium metal was found not to be mutagenic or clastogenic based on the experimental in vitro results. Furthermore, treatment with beryllium metal extracts did not induce DNA repair synthesis, indicative of no DNA-damaging potential of beryllium metal. A cell-transforming potential and a tendency to inhibit DNA repair when the cell is severely damaged by an external stimulus were observed. Beryllium metal was also found not to be a skin or eye irritant, not to be a skin sensitizer, and not to have relevant acute oral toxic properties.
doi:10.1093/annhyg/meq071
PMCID: PMC3020675  PMID: 21196457
acute toxicity; beryllium; genotoxicity; mutagenicity; sensitization; solubility
2.  Beryllium Metal II. A Review of the Available Toxicity Data 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2010;55(1):43-56.
Beryllium metal was classified in Europe collectively with beryllium compounds, e.g. soluble salts. Toxicological equivalence was assumed despite greatly differing physicochemical properties. Following introduction of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, beryllium metal was classified as individual substance and more investigational efforts to appropriately characterize beryllium metal as a specific substance apart from soluble beryllium compounds was required. A literature search on toxicity of beryllium metal was conducted, and the resulting literature compiled together with the results of a recently performed study package into a comprehensive data set. Testing performed under Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development guidelines and Good Laboratory Practice concluded that beryllium metal was neither a skin irritant, an eye irritant, a skin sensitizer nor evoked any clinical signs of acute oral toxicity; discrepancies between the current legal classification of beryllium metal in the European Union (EU) and the experimental results were identified. Furthermore, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity were discussed in the context of the literature data and the new experimental data. It was concluded that beryllium metal is unlikely to be a classical nonthreshold mutagen. Effects on DNA repair and morphological cell transformation were observed but need further investigation to evaluate their relevance in vivo. Animal carcinogenicity studies deliver evidence of carcinogenicity in the rat; however, lung overload may be a species-specific confounding factor in the existing studies, and studies in other species do not give convincing evidence of carcinogenicity. Epidemiology has been intensively discussed over the last years and has the problem that the studies base on the same US beryllium production population and do not distinguish between metal and soluble compounds. It is noted that the correlation between beryllium exposure and carcinogenicity, even including the soluble compounds, remains under discussion in the scientific community and active research is continuing.
doi:10.1093/annhyg/meq073
PMCID: PMC3020676  PMID: 21196456
acute toxicity; beryllium; carcinogenicity; classification; epidemiology; genotoxicity; inhalation; sensitization

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