Author(s): Sutton M, Bibby RK, Eppich GR, Lee S, Lindvall RE,
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Abstract Beryllium has been historically machined, handled and stored in facilities at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) since the 1950s. Additionally, outdoor testing of beryllium-containing components has been performed at LLNL's Site 300 facility. Beryllium levels in local soils and atmospheric particulates have been measured over three decades and are comparable to those found elsewhere in the natural environment. While localized areas of beryllium contamination have been identified, laboratory operations do not appear to have increased the concentration of beryllium in local air or water. Variation in airborne beryllium correlates to local weather patterns, PM10 levels, normal sources (such as resuspension of soil and emissions from coal power stations) but not to LLNL activities. Regional and national atmospheric beryllium levels have decreased since the implementation of the EPA's 1990 Clean-Air-Act. Multi-element analysis of local soil and air samples allowed for the determination of comparative ratios for beryllium with over 50 other metals to distinguish between natural beryllium and process-induced contamination. Ten comparative elemental markers (Al, Cs, Eu, Gd, La, Nd, Pr, Sm, Th and Tl) that were selected to ensure background variations in other metals did not collectively interfere with the determination of beryllium sources in work-place samples at LLNL. Multi-element analysis and comparative evaluation are recommended for all workplace and environmental samples suspected of beryllium contamination. The multi-element analyses of soils and surface dusts were helpful in differentiating between beryllium of environmental origin and beryllium from laboratory operations. Some surfaces can act as "sinks" for particulate matter, including carpet, which retains entrained insoluble material even after liquid based cleaning. At LLNL, most facility carpets had beryllium concentrations at or below the upper tolerance limit determined by sampling facilities with no history of beryllium work. Some facility carpets had beryllium concentrations above the upper tolerance limits but can be attributed to tracking of local soils, while other facilities showed process-induced contamination from adjacent operations. In selected cases, distinctions were made as to the source of beryllium in carpets. Guidance on the determination of facility beryllium sources is given. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Sci Total Environ
and referenced in Journal of Tissue Science & Engineering