Interestingly, not all those who get exposed to potentially harmful levels of beryllium will experience an allergic, potentially deadly reaction.
"There is a genetic susceptibility component, which means that not everyone who is exposed is at risk of going on to develop sensitization, then chronic beryllium disease," Pepper said.
Beryllium is nonmagnetic and resistant to concentrated nitric acid.
It also has superior thermal conductivity and resists oxidation in air in normal temperatures.
Thanks to its low thermal neutron absorption cross-section, beryllium is used in nuclear reactors as a reflector or moderator.
Moreover, the high melting point of beryllium oxide makes it a useful material for nuclear work and ceramic applications, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Steel gray in color, beryllium's modulus of elasticity is about one-third greater than steel.Other beryllium alloys are used in high-speed aircrafts and missiles, as well as spacecraft and communication satellites.Beryllium copper is also used in windshield frame, brake discs, support beams, and other structural components of the space shuttle.Particles from incoming cosmic rays (high-energy radiation from outer space) begin to hit these boulder surfaces, creating beryllium-10.The longer the surface area is exposed, the greater the amount of beryllium-10, according to the University of Utah.
In the study, researchers determined that the bodies of people who have this protein create a unique molecular "pocket," which captures beryllium ions and triggers an inflammatory response in the lungs.