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EC number: 231-150-7
CAS number: 7440-41-7
Rats were exposed to an aerosol of metallic beryllium once during 50
minutes at a concentration of 800 mg/m3, (= 625 mg/rat) and
followed up for 171 days. At the sacrifices after 3, 7, 10, 14, 31, 59,
115 and 171 days the investigated parameters were weight, macro- and
micropathology of lungs, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) for cytology and
enzymes and Be contents and clearance.
The treatment induced an increase in lung weight, acute necrotizing,
haemorrhagic, exudative pneuminitis and intraalveolar fibrosis that
peaked after 14 days. After 31 days, the inflammatory lesions had
regressed to be replaced by minimal interstitial and intraalveolar
fibrosis. Necrotizing inflammation reappeared after 59 days and
progressed to chronic active inflammation after 115 days and worsened
progressively, as did alveolar macrophage and epithelial hyperplasia,
being severe after 171 days. Few diffusely distributed lymphocytes were
present, but not associated with granulomas. In the BAL cells were
elevated, mainly due to neutrophils. Lymphocytes were not increased.
LDH, beta-glucuronidase and total protein levels were elevated up to day
14, and normal again at day 31. Only LDH was substantially increased
again at day 59 and later. The Be-clearance was estimated to have a half
life of about 240 days.
The results indicate that inhalation of beryllium metal by rats result
in severe, acute chemical pneumonitis that is followed by a quiescent
period of minimal inflammation and mild fibrosis. Progressive,
chronic-active, fibrosing pneumonitis is observed later. The lesions
appear to be due to direct chemical toxicity and foreign-body type
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