Asphalt (Bitumen) Fumes

Hazard Recognition

Exposure to asphalt fumes can cause serious injury and permanent damage. Workers that may be exposed to asphalt fumes need to be aware of the potential hazards in their work environment. The following references aid in recognizing asphalt fume hazards in the workplace.

  • Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Asphalt Fumes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 78-106, (September 1977). Provides links to documents containing information on occupational exposure to asphalt fumes.
  • PubChem – Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. The National Library of Medicine (NLM).
  • Report on Carcinogens (ROC). U.S. 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. World Health Organization (WHO).
  • ToxFAQs for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (September 1996). Answers the most frequently asked health questions about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a component of concern in asphalt.
  • Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Asphalt. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-110, (2001). Reviews current scientific data on health effects related to occupational exposures to asphalt, describes further research needs in this area, and suggests measures to minimize worker exposures while studies continue.
  • Asphalt Emissions including Fumes. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Links to resources that provide safety and health information relevant to asphalt fumes.
  • Crumb-Rubber Modified Asphalt Paving: Occupational Exposure and Acute Health Effects. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Report No. HETA-2001-0536-2864, (2001). The study protocol included the following objectives: develop and field test new methods to assess asphalt fume exposures, characterize and compare occupational exposures to crumb-rubber modified (CRM) asphalt and conventional (CONV) asphalt and evaluate potential health effects associated with CRM asphalt and CONV asphalt. Seven site evaluations were completed between 1994 and 1997. These have been reported separately in individual HHE Reports. The numerous paving jobs were evaluated for exposure concentrations and worker health symptoms, comparing CRM asphalt paving with CONV paving.
  • NIOSHTIC-2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH. Contains a list of references pertaining to asphalt fumes.
  • Mineral Products Industry. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission factors AP-42, 5th ed., Volume I, Chapter 11. Contains information and process overviews of hot mix asphalt and roofing material plants and the emissions and controls associated with these processes.
  • Jane Y. C. Ma, et al. "Inhalation Exposure of Rats to Asphalt Fumes Generated at Paving Temperatures Alters Pulmonary Xenobiotic Metabolism Pathways without Lung Injury." Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) 111.9 (July 2003).
  • For additional information, see OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics Page on: