Beryllium, an exotic rare-earth metal used as a hardener in high-performance alloys and ceramics, can cause berylliosis—a chronic, incurable and sometimes fatal illness. The new reference material is expected to dramatically improve methods used to monitor workers’ exposure and aid in contamination control as well as toxicological research.
The use of beryllium in manufacturing dates back to the advent of the atomic age. One of the scientists involved with the famous Chicago experiment known as Chicago Pile-1 to create the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear reaction in 1942 died of berylliosis in 1988. Aside from the nuclear industry, the unique properties of beryllium make it valuable in the manufacture of aircraft and supercolliders.
Beryllium dust can cause a condition characterized by chronic skin and/or respiratory inflammation resembling pneumonia in susceptible individuals and can increase the risk of lung cancers with long periods of exposure. Treating the particles as a threat, the body’s immune system floods the affected area with white blood cells. The cells surround the beryllium particles and harden to form inflamed tissue nodules called granulomas. These granulomas can lodge under the skin or in lung tissue where they cause difficulty breathing and a host of other symptoms including fatigue, weight loss and muscle pain. The condition, although treatable, is incurable.
The new Standard Reference Material, Beryllium Oxide Powder (SRM 1877), consists of high-fired crystalline beryllium oxide that has been thoroughly characterized physically and chemically. The particles that make up the powder have an average diameter of about 200 nanometers and have been separated into aggregated clusters that will pass through a 20 mesh screen. NIST scientists Greg Turk and Mike Winchester used a high performance inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry technique developed at NIST to certify the mass fraction (the ratio of pure beryllium in the beryllium oxide) in the compound. NIST provided its partners with support to perform the preparations and did the final analysis of the solutions when they were completed.
According to Winchester, previous analytical tests for exposure monitoring relied on an easily dissolved form of beryllium that was not representative of what people would be exposed to in the field. The new SRM mimics the form of beryllium to which workers would be exposed much more closely and should facilitate much more representative and informative toxicological studies, more sensitive monitoring and more effective clean up of contaminated areas.
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration sponsored the development of the new SRM. NIST collaborators included the Savannah River Site in Aiken S.C.; the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Bureau Veritas in Novi, Mich.; and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, W. Va.
Additional data and ordering information for SRM 1877, Beryllium Oxide Powder, is available at https://srmors.nist.gov/view_detail.cfm?srm=1877.
Standard Reference Materials are among the most widely distributed and used products from NIST. The agency prepares, analyzes and distributes more than a thousand different materials that are used throughout the world to check the accuracy of instruments and test procedures used in manufacturing, clinical chemistry, environmental monitoring, electronics, criminal forensics and dozens of other fields. For more information, see NIST’s SRM Web page at http://ts.nist.gov/measurementservices/referencematerials.
Mark Esser | Newswise Science News
Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy