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Editorials |

Lung Disease and the Lightest of Metals

W. Michael Alberts, MD, MBA, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: Tampa, FL
 ,  Dr. Alberts is Chief Medical Officer, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, and Professor of Medicine, Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology, University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Correspondence to: W. Michael Alberts, MD, MBA, FCCP, Chief Medical Officer, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Professor of Medicine, Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology, University of South Florida College of Medicine, 12902 Magnolia Dr, Tampa, FL 33612; e-mail: alberts@moffitt.usf.edu



Chest. 2004;126(6):1730-1732. doi:10.1378/chest.126.6.1730
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Now that they no longer put beryllium phospors in fluorescent light bulbs, we no longer see a lot of beryllium-induced lung disease, or do we? It has been estimated that from 200,000 to 800,000 workers are exposed to beryllium in the United States.1 If one uses a conservative estimate that 2% of exposed workers will develop clinical disease,2 4,000 to 16,000 individuals may have beryllium lung disease in this country. The apparent discrepancy between the clinical recognition of disease and the potential disease burden may be explained by the difficulty/failure to diagnose.3 In 2003, Fireman and coworkers4 found that 6% of patients in whom sarcoidosis was initially diagnosed actually had chronic beryllium disease (CBD). CBD is physiologically and histologically indistinguishable from sarcoidosis. Unless one identifies and confirms an exposure to beryllium, sarcoidosis may, in fact, be a correct diagnosis. Along those lines, an especially interesting article has explored the question “is chronic beryllium disease sarcoidosis of known etiology?.”5

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