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The chemical and geochemical properties of beryllium resemble those of aluminum, zinc, and magnesium. This resemblance is primarily due to similar ionic potentials which facilitate covalent bonding. The three most common forms of beryllium in industrial emission are the metal, the oxide, and the hydroxide. The main routes of beryllium intake for man and animals are inhalation and ingestion. While the absorption of ingested beryllium is probably quite insignificant, the chemical properties of beryllium are such that transformation of soluble to insoluble forms of inhaled beryllium results in long retention time in the lungs. The tissue distribution of absorbed beryllium is characterized by main deposition in the skeleton where the biological half-life is fairly long. The lung is the critical organ of both acute and chronic non-carcinogenic effects. However, unlike most other metals, the lung effects caused by chronic exposure to beryllium may be combined with systemic effects, of which one common factor may be hypersensitization.
US EPA. Health Assessment Document for Beryllium: Review Draft (April 1986). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/8-84/026B (NTIS PB86183944).