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Coal Tar Pitch Volatiles
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Coal Tar Pitch Volatiles

Coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs) are composed of various chemical vapors that become airborne during the heating of coal tar pitch. Coal tar pitch is a black or dark-brown amorphous residue produced by the distillation or heat treatment of coal tar. It is a solid at room temperature and exhibits a broad softening range instead of a defined melting temperature. Synonyms for CTPVs vary depending upon the specific compound (e.g., pyrene, phenanthrene, acridine, chrysene, anthracene and benzo(a)pyrene). [Note: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers coal tar, coal tar pitch, and creosote to be coal tar products.]

OSHA Standards

OSHA has not established a substance-specific standard for occupational exposure to coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs) however exposures are regulated under OSHA's Air Contaminants Standard for general industry, shipyard employment and the construction industry. Employees exposed to CTPVs in the coke oven industry are covered by the coke oven emissions standard. This section highlights OSHA standards and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to CTPVs. Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

  • 1910.1000, Air contaminants
    • Table Z-1, Limits for air contaminants. (See the entry for coal tar pitch volatiles.)
  • 1910.1002, Coal tar pitch volatiles; interpretation of term

  • 1910.1029, Coke oven emissions
    • Appendix A, Coke oven emissions substance information sheet
    • Appendix B, Industrial hygiene and medical surveillance guidelines

Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)

  • 1915.1000, Air contaminants. (See the coal tar pitch volatiles entry in Table Z-Shipyards.)

  • 1915.1002, Coal tar pitch volatiles; interpretation of term. Requirements are identical to 29 CFR 1910.1002.

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

  • 1926.55, Gases, vapors, fumes, dusts, and mists
    • Appendix A, Gases, vapors, fumes, dusts, and mists. (See entry for coal tar pitch volatiles.)
  • 1926.1102, Coal tar pitch volatiles; interpretation of term. Requirements are identical to 29 CFR 1910.1002.

Standard Interpretations

Hazard Recognition

Coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs) are found in the industry when heating of coal tar or coal tar pitch takes place. Once the pitch is heated, chemicals vaporize and may be inhaled by workers. Industries where workers are potentially exposed to CTPVs include coking, roofing, road paving, aluminum smelting, wood preserving and any others where coal tar is used. The following links provide information about the health effects of CTPVs:

  • Coal tar pitch volatiles. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (1994, May). Provides an Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) document that includes acute toxicity data for CTPVs.

  • Carcinogen Assessment of Coke Oven Emissions. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Health and Environmental Assessment Publication No. EPA-600/6-82-003F, (1984, February). Summarizes studies of the health effects resulting from exposures to coke oven emissions.

  • TOXNET for Coal Tar. The National Library of Medicine Hazardous Substance Database.

  • Report on Carcinogens (RoC). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Toxicology Program (NTP). Identifies and discusses agents, substances, mixtures, or exposure circumstances that may pose a health hazard due to their carcinogenicity. The listing of substances in the RoC only indicates a potential hazard and does not establish the exposure conditions that would pose cancer risks to individuals.
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks for Humans [141 KB PDF, 2 pages]. World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Classification: Carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).

  • Toxicological Profile for Creosote. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2002, September). Provides exposure risks, exposure limits, and health effects for creosote.

  • ToxFAQS for Creosote. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2002, September). Summarizes the properties and health effects for creosote, including CTPVs.

  • Toxicological Profile for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (1995, August). Provides exposure risks, exposure limits, and health effects for PAHs.

  • ToxFAQs for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (1996, September). Covers what PAHs are, how a person is exposed to PAHs, the acute and chronic health effects, human and animal studies associated with high levels of exposures, medical tests to determine if a person has been exposed to PAHs, and the regulations associated with PAHs.

  • Coke oven emissions (CASRN 8007-45-2). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Discusses the health effects of coke oven emissions.

  • Health Effects Notebook for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
    • Coke Oven Emissions. Lists coke oven emissions as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) under the National Emissions Standard Hazardous Air Pollutants section of its Clean Air Act.
    • Polycyclic organic matter (POM). Lists polycyclic organic matter (POM) as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) under the National Emissions Standard Hazardous Air Pollutants section of its Clean Air Act.
  • Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Includes detailed reports on specific chemicals, covering hazard summaries, identification, exposure routes, health hazards, and ways of reducing exposure. The following polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are included.
  • Evaluation of Employee Health Risk from Open Tire Burning. California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) Advisory #46, (1997, November 6). Provides a compilation of available information through literature review, known tire fire data, and other available information.

  • International Chemical Safety Cards: Coal Tar Pitch. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (2002, July 3). Summarizes essential health and safety information on coal tar pitch.

Exposure Evaluation

Coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs) are measured by passing workplace air through a sampling device and then analyzing the sample for the compounds of interest. The following references aid in evaluating levels of CTPVs.

Analytical Methods

OSHA

OSHA has developed and validated methods for use by the Salt Lake Technical Center Laboratory. The following standard methods have been adopted by many laboratories for the analysis of chemical compounds.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Possible Solutions

Engineering controls are the best methods for controlling exposure to CTPVs. Engineering controls include local and dilution ventilation, isolating and/or containing processes that emit CTPVs, and where possible, automated handling of coal tar products that generate CTPVs in open systems. Respirators may also be worn by individuals exposed to CTPVs to keep their exposures below the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL), and protective clothing may be used to prevent skin contact with coal tars and coal-tar products, including CTPVs. However, personal protective equipment (PPE) should be the last line of defense.

The following table presents exposure limits established for CTPVs and related substances.

PEL = Permissible Exposure Limit
REL = Recommended Exposure Limit
TLV = Threshold Limit Value
PAHs = Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Substance OSHA PEL NIOSH REL ACGIH TLV
CTPVs 0.2 mg/m3 (benzene-soluble fraction) 0.1 mg/m3(cyclohexane-extractable fraction) 0.2 mg/m3 (benzene-soluble fraction)
PAHs 0.2 mg/m3 0.1 mg/m3 (10 hour exposure) --
Coke Oven Emissions 0.150 mg/m3 (benzene-soluble fraction) 0.5-0.7 mg/m3 --

Values are for an 8 hour time-weighted-average (TWA) exposure, except for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) REL for PAHs, which is based on a 10 hour TWA exposure.

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-149, (2007, September). Presents key information and data in abbreviated or tabular form for chemicals or substance groupings (e.g. cyanides, fluorides, manganese compounds) that are found in the work environment.
  • Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 81-123, (1981, January). Contains information on identification, physical and chemical properties, health hazards, exposure limits, exposure sources and control methods, monitoring, personal hygiene, storage, spills and leaks, and personal protective equipment.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Other Resources

The following is a list of literature references pertaining to coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs).

  • Jongenteelen, F.J. "Biological exposure limit for occupational exposure to coal tar pitch volatiles at coke ovens." Int-arch-Occupational and Environmental Health 63.8(1992): 511-516.

  • Armstrong, B. and G. Theriault. "Compensating lung cancer patients occupationally exposed to coal tar pitch volatiles." Occupational and Environmental Medicine 53.3(1996, March): 160-167.

  • Baranski, B., et al. "Correlation between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons concentration and airborne particle mutagenicity in rubber factory." Pol Journal of Medicine and Environmental Health 5.4(1992): 357-362.

  • Rogaczewska, T., D. Ligocka, and K. Nowicka. "Hygienic characteristics of carbon black used in tyre production." Pol Journal of Occupational Medicine 2.4(1989): 367-375.

  • Tremblay, C., et al. "Estimation of risk of developing bladder cancer among workers exposed to coal tar pitch volatiles in the primary aluminum industry." American Journal of Industrial Medicine 27.3(1995, March): 335-348.

  • Armstrong, B., et al. "Lung cancer mortality and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons: a case-cohort study of aluminum production workers in Arvida, Quebec, Canada." American Journal of Epidemiology 139.3(1994, February 1): 250-262.

  • Spinelli, J.J., et al. "Mortality and cancer incidence in aluminum reduction plant workers." Journal of Occupational Medicine 52.4(1995, April): 255-261.

  • Ronneberg, A. "Mortality and cancer morbidity in workers from an aluminum with prebaked carbon anodes-part I: Exposure assessment." Occupational and Environmental Medicine 52.4(1995, April): 242-249.

  • Ronneberg, A. "Mortality and cancer morbidity in workers from an aluminum with prebaked carbon anodes-part II: Cancer morbidity." Occupational and Environmental Medicine 52.4(1995, April): 250-254.

  • Ronneberg, A. "Mortality and cancer morbidity in workers from an aluminum with prebaked carbon anodes-part III: Mortality from circulatory and respiratory diseases." Occupational and Environmental Medicine 52.4(1995, April): 255-261.

  • Rogaczewska, T. and D. Ligocka. "Occupational exposure to coal tar pitch volatiles, benzo/a/purene and dust in tyre production." International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 7.4(1994): 379-386.

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