Beryllium Screening Raises Ethical Issues

Science  09 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5425, pp. 178-179
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5425.178b

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


An analytical chemist who has been removed from his job after testing positive for a genetic variation that causes a small percentage of people exposed to the metal beryllium to develop an incurable and sometimes fatal lung disease spoke about his plight at a 24 June meeting on the ethical problems of conducting workplace health studies. His case illustrates the problems of using a test without clear benefits to those taking it, one that not only produces lots of "wrong" answers but that also monitors a condition that cannot be treated until symptoms appear. Epidemiologists say the value of a robust database must be weighed against the psychological impact of a positive test, the threat to an individual's health insurance, and the disruption at work.