The potential hazards of exposure to beryllium compounds were first reported in the 1930s. The clinical syndrome of chronic beryllium disease (CBD) or berylliosis were described in 1946. Initial speculation on the immunologic basis of CBD occurred in the 1950s. The first in vitro observation of beryllium-specific cell proliferation was demonstrated in the 1970s.
Beryllium sensitivity testing is used
as a screening tool for possible chronic beryllium disease;
as a surveillance tool in indicating hazardous working conditions;
as part of the diagnostic criteria for the disease.
The Berylium Lymphocyte Proliferation Test (BeLPT) is used to determine if an individual is sensitized to beryllium. If a person's white blood cells proliferation is significantly increased in the presence of beryllium, this can be an indication on inreased propension to develop the disease in the presence of beryllium. All subjects afflicted with one form or the other of berylliosis score positive in the BeLPT assay.