ABIH: Workers Need to Be Protected Against Asphalt Fumes

Aug. 25, 2016
Construction workers are particularly at risk for health effects caused by asphalt exposure including skin rash, sensitization, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation, cough and skin cancer.

The American Board of Industrial Hygiene is reminding safety professionals and managers to limit worker exposure to asphalt fumes.

More than 500,000 workers are exposed to asphalt fumes, according to OSHA. Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is found in natural deposits or can be obtained by refining crude oil. Exposure to asphalt fumes can cause serious injury and permanent damage. Those workers who may be exposed to asphalt fumes need to be aware of the potential hazards in their work environment, ABIH said.

Road construction workers particularly are at risk for exposure where asphalt primarily is used with other granular materials such as sand, gravel, or crushed stone. Asphalt also is commonly used to seal flat roofs and in waterproofing products.

“Although OSHA proposed a permissible exposure limit in the early 1990s for asphalt fumes; one does not exist today,” said Susan Ripple, CIH and ABIH chair in a statement. “It’s important to control workers’ exposure to protect their health.”

OSHA lists health effects from exposure to asphalt fumes which include headache, skin rash, sensitization, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation, cough and skin cancer.

In order to identify and minimize exposure, Ripple advocated for the use of Certified Industrial Hygienists who are trained to conduct risks assessments, air sampling and instrumentational analysis, chemical and biohazards, engineering controls and ventilation, health risk analysis and hazard communication.

“This knowledge and the proper use of personal protective equipment can be instrumental in reducing exposure risks to asphalt fumes and other potential workplace hazards,” she said.

The complex chemical composition of asphalt makes it difficult to identify the specific component(s) responsible for adverse health effects observed in exposed workers. Known carcinogens have been found in asphalt fumes generated at work sites, according to NIOSH.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!