Beryllium powder is an odourless greyish-white dust or powder.

Beryllium is mostly used as copper, aluminum or nickel alloys. Adding a  small portion of beryllium to those alloys make some of their properties more suitable (thermal conductivity, wearing resistance, corrosion resistance, etc.). A small portion of beryllium is also added to magnesium alloys to reduce flammability.

Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS-1988)

Classes : B4, D1A, D2A and D2B

Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG)


Safety Equipments

Up to 2 µg/m3

Over 2 µg/m3

Permissible Exposure Values in Québec

According to the Regulation respecting occupational health and safety

Time-weighted average exposure value (TWAEV): 0,002 mg/m3 (2 µg/m3), value as Be (beryllium).

Designation and remarks :

  • C2 (carcinogenic effect suspected in humans)
  • RP (may not be recirculated)
  • EM (exposure reduced to a minimum)

To protect workers, an action level of 0,2 µ/m3 has been establish as exposure value not to be exceeded.

First aid

In case of inhalation of dusts or fumes, move the person to fresh air and place the person in half-upright position. If breathing has stopped, administer artificial respiration. In case of breathing difficulties, give oxygen. Transfer the person immediately to the nearest medical emergency centre.

Eye contact
Rinse the eyes with plenty of water for 5 minutes or until the product has been eliminated. If the irritation persists, consult a physician.

Skin contact
Remove contaminated clothes promptly. Wash the skin with water and soap.

Rinse mouth. Consult a physician.

Safety hazards

Fine particles may ignite when heated between 560 to 700 °C. In a confined space, a cloud of beryllium powder may explode when exposed to an ignition source. Beryllium powder reacts with strong acids and bases forming hydrogen, a flammable and explosive gas.

Fire fighting and special procedures

Use the following extinguishing media : dry clay, dry ground limestone, dry sand or inert powders. Do not use chlorinated extinguishing agent, carbon dioxide (CO2) or water.

Wear a self-contained breathing apparatus and full protective clothing.

Combustion products

Beryllium monoxide.

Health hazards

Exposure in the workplace occurs by inhalation of dusts or fumes and contact with the skin.

Effects of short-term exposure

Inhalation of massive amounts of dusts or fumes can cause chemical pneumonia within 72 hours. The symptoms are cough, chest pain, progressive shortness of breath, general weakness and tiredness with fever. Pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs) can occur. Nowadays, such conditions are rare in the workplace.

The embedding of small beryllium crystals in the skin can lead to the formation of ulcers and small nodules.

Effects of repeated or prolonged exposure

Inhalation, even in very small quantities and over relatively short periods, can cause a chronic pulmonary disease known as beryllosis and which is incurable. This disease begins with a sensitization to beryllium which is a kind of allergy without noticing any symptoms. As the disease is developping the main symptoms include shortness of breath (especially with activity), cough, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and night sweats.

Rash (eczema) and small wart-like nodules can be seen on the skin.

Beryllium and its compounds are carcinogenic for humans.

Preventive measures

Protective equipment

Respiratory tract

Wear a self-contained breathing apparatus, if the concentration in the workplace is greater than the stated action level of 0,2 µg/m3 and even at lower level. Up to 2 µg/m3, wear an air-purifying respirator with a 100-series filter (N,P or R-type), with a half facepiece, eye protection and skin protection or a full facepiece. Over 2 µg/m3, wear a supplied-air respirator with a full facepiece or any self-contained breathing apparatus. Other equipment may be acceptable depending on exposure conditions.


In the workplace area, wear protective clothing and gloves. Selection of protective clothing depends on the type of work.


Wear eye protection. Selection of eye protection depends on the type of work and on the type of the breathing apparatus employed. Depending on the situation, safety glasses, dust-proof goggles or face shield are recommanded.

Handling procedures

This product is very toxic : avoid all operations or processes releasing a cloud of dust or fine particles. Avoid all contact with skin and eyes. Do not eat or drink when using this product. Adopt a very strict personal hygiene. Double changing room should be provided (one for working clothes, one for street clothes). Precautions should be taken to avoid beryllium dispersion and environmental contamination.


Store away from high fire risk area, from heat, oxidizers and incompatible products, in a cool, dry and well ventilated area. Store powder in a clearly identified tightly closed container.

Leak or spill

Only properly trained personnel can do the clean up. Establish a restricted zone for the spill area until the clean up has been completed. Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner to clean equipment and floor in the working area. Wear full protective clothing including a self-contained breathing apparatus.

Beryllium waste must be kept in a tightly closed container, clearly identified, and transferred to a firm specializing in beryllium recycling.