These days, beryllium is typically obtained from the minerals beryl and bertrandite in a chemical process or through the electrolysis of a mixture of molten beryllium chloride and sodium chloride, the Jefferson Lab reports.
Beryllium is found in about 30 mineral species, including bertrandite, beryl, chrysoberyl, and phenacite, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Beryl and bertrandite are the most important commercial sources of the element and its compounds.
Beryllium is alloyed with copper or nickel to make springs, gyroscopes, electrical contacts, spot-welding electrodes and non-sparking tools, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Uniquely strong and light, beryllium is used to make cell phones, missiles and aircrafts.
But workers who handle the metal need to watch out, as airborne beryllium has been known to be highly toxic.
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.
"The immune system does not actually 'see' beryllium," study author John Kappler, a researcher at National Jewish Health, said in a statement.
Beryllium is nonmagnetic and resistant to concentrated nitric acid.
It also has superior thermal conductivity and resists oxidation in air in normal temperatures.
Other beryllium alloys are used in high-speed aircrafts and missiles, as well as spacecraft and communication satellites.