Beryllium sensitivity and chronic beryllium disease are two of the diseases eligible for benefits under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. When seeking compensation, employees, contractors or subcontractors working at Department of Energy facilities first must establish they were employed at the facility while beryllium particles or fumes may have been present.

Next, the employees, contractors or subcontractors must present evidence of their beryllium sensitivity or chronic beryllium disease. The Department of Labor explains the difference of proofs for each condition.

Beryllium sensitivity is an allergic reaction to the presence of beryllium that has been inhaled into the lungs. To prove beryllium sensitivity, the employee, contractor or subcontractor must present an abnormal Beryllium Lymphocyte Proliferation Test (BeLPT) or Beryllium Lymphocyte Transformation Test (BeLTT) performed on either lung or blood lavage cells.

Chronic beryllium disease is progressive loss of lung function caused by inhaling beryllium particles or fumes. The medical evidence required to establish chronic beryllium disease for EEOICPA benefits depends on when the employee, contractor or subcontractor was diagnosed.

If the diagnosis was on or after January 1, 1993, the following must be provided:

  • An abnormal BeLPT or BeLTT test performed on lung or blood lavage cells
  • Lung pathology that is consistent with chronic beryllium disease
  • Any one of the following:
    • A lung biopsy that show granulomas or lymphatic process that is consistent with chronic beryllium disease
    • A CAT scan showing changes that are consistent with chronic beryllium disease
    • A pulmonary function study or exercise tolerance test that shows pulmonary deficits consistent with chronic beryllium disease

If the diagnosis was made before January 1, 1993, the medical evidence must include the following:

  • History of, or epidemiological evidence of, exposure to beryllium
  • Three of the following:
    • Characteristic chest X-ray or CT abnormalities
    • Restrictive or obstructive lung physiology testing or diffusing lung capacity defect
    • Lung pathology that is consistent with chronic beryllium disease
    • Clinical course that is consistent with a chronic respiratory disorder
    • Immunologic tests that show beryllium sensitivity