With a budget of $155.8 billion, one might think the US Navy could afford to make sure service members won’t needlessly suffer from exposure to toxic substances.
But the United States Navy has exposed workers to beryllium, a highly toxic metal, and then deliberately chosen not to test them for beryllium sensitization.
To determine beryllium sensitization, the price for the Beryllium Lymphocyte Proliferation Test is $266.00 per test ($133,000 to test the 500 service members who are likely to have been exposed).
In reaction to this, on September 5, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Region 9 issued “serious violations” to the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center South West located in Coronado California for “failing to put in place Safety and Health Programs, polices and procedure to protect employees from the hazards of Beryllium.”
Beryllium can cause in chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. It can be found in many industrial products, including coal slag, where it is used in abrasive sand blasting operations. Short-term exposure at low levels can cause immune system sensitization to beryllium in as little as two months.