Beryllium

Cathal Walsh
Environmental Journalist
Tuesday, 9th July 2019
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Metal industry factory that represents a source of beryllium in drinking water.

Beryllium

Beryllium
Odour Odourless
Appearance Metallic gray to white solid
Taste None (please don't try it!)
Limit in Water 0.004 mg/L
Source Manufacturing processes, natural sources, coal and fuel combustion
Long Term Exposure May cause intestinal lesions if ingested
Route to Exposure More dangerous if inhaled

Table of Contents

Maximum amount allowed in water:

0.004 mg/L

What is it?

Beryllium is an inorganic metallic element on the periodic table. Because it is an element it cannot be destroyed or broken down further. Compounds containing primarily beryllium are either white or colourless and do not have any particular distinguishing odour.

What is it used for?

Beryllium comes with many specialised uses. The greatest use for beryllium comes for making alloys for nuclear reactors and the aerospace industry. Other uses are as an alloy and an oxide in electrical equipment and microwave ovens.

How does it get into drinking water?

Beryllium naturally enters groundwater through the erosion and weathering of rocks and soil. It can also enter groundwater through industrial discharge.  A major source of environmental release of beryllium is from coal and fuel combustion.

What are the health effects of an exceedance?

Drinking water with an excess of beryllium over extended periods of time has been shown to cause the individual to develop intestinal lesions.

How do I check if it is in my water?

The best way to check for beryllium is to get a water test from an accredited lab

How do I remove it from my drinking water?

To remove beryllium completely or to get it below the EPA standard of  0.004 mg/L, the following treatment options are available:

  • activated alumina
  • coagulation/filtration
  • ion exchange
  • lime softening
  • reverse osmosis

 

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Beryllium

Beryllium
Odour Odourless
Appearance Metallic gray to white solid
Taste None (please don't try it!)
Limit in Water 0.004 mg/L
Source Manufacturing processes, natural sources, coal and fuel combustion
Long Term Exposure May cause intestinal lesions if ingested
Route to Exposure More dangerous if inhaled