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New Report Describes Ways to Reduce Exposures to Asphalt Fume in Roofing Products

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
September 20, 2001

A new collaborative document from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) describes current practices for reducing workers’ exposure to asphalt fumes during the manufacture of asphalt roofing products.

The publication, “Asphalt Fume Exposures During the Manufacture of Asphalt Roofing Products: Current Practices for Reducing Exposures,” represents a collaborative effort by industry, labor, and government, including NIOSH, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, the Asphalt Institute, the National Roofing Contractors Association, and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers.

The document describes the process for manufacturing asphalt roofing products, identifies steps in the process that have the potential for worker exposure to asphalt fumes, and identifies current engineering control methods and work practices to reduce exposures. In addition, it lists relevant research needed for further reducing exposures. The primary purpose of the document is to increase awareness among plant managers, safety and health professionals, and engineers about the potential for asphalt and asphalt fume exposures and current exposure-reduction practices in the industry.

The new document results from a public meeting held in July 1996 in Cincinnati, Ohio, in which participants from industry, labor, government, and academia discussed engineering controls and work practices for controlling exposures to asphalt fumes in the roofing industry. NIOSH, labor, and industry are working together on several initiatives to explore the complex questions pertaining to job-related asphalt exposures and health effects, and to develop practical and effective exposure controls based on known data.

For example, in 1997, a joint effort by NIOSH, the asphalt paving industry, labor, and other federal agencies resulted in the development and adoption of new controls that have significantly reduced worker exposures to asphalt fumes on new highway-class paving machines. In December 2000, NIOSH published a report that evaluated current scientific data on health effects related to occupational exposures to asphalt, described further research needs in that area, and suggested measures to minimize worker exposures while studies continue.

Copies of the new publication, “Asphalt Fume Exposures During the Manufacture of Asphalt Roofing Products: Current Practices for Reducing Exposures,” DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-127, are available by calling the NIOSH toll-free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674). For further information on NIOSH research, contact the toll-free information number .