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General Description

Synonyms: Coke oven emissions

OSHA IMIS Code Number:

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: None

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: GH0346000

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Coke Oven Emissions: Chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazard Summary - Coke Oven Emissions: Uses, sources and potential exposure, acute and chronic health hazard information, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit

Limit Values

HE Codes

Health Factors and Target Organs

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1029

0.150 mg/m3
(benzene-soluble fraction)



OSHA PEL - Construction Industry

Not established



OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment

Not established



National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)

0.2 mg/m3
(benzene-soluble fraction)



Cancer of the respiratory tract, kidney, bladder, and skin

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV)

Not established




0.15 mg/m3



National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Known to be human carcinogens [106 KB PDF, 2 pages]

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Group 1 [451 KB PDF, 12 pages] (carcinogenic to humans [listed under coke production])

EPA carcinogenic classification: Human carcinogen

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC):  Not established

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Level (MRL): Not established

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: Not established

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Urinary 2-naphthol serves as a proportional biomarker for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are found in coke oven emissions. Workers with higher levels of exposure to PAHs also had higher levels of urinary 2-naphthol (Jeng et al. 2011).
  2. Workers exposed to coke oven emissions have an increased risk of liver dysfunction. This effect is compounded in workers with elevated body mass indices and with hepatitis virus infection. (Hu et al. 2010).
  3. Workers exposed to greater air concentrations of coke oven emissions had increased oxidatively damaged DNA products and mutagenicity of urine. Higher exposures also increase DNA methylation and urinary acute toxicity (Chao et al. 2008).
  4. Coke oven workers exposed to coke oven emissions have an increased risk of chronic cough/phlegm and chronic obtrusive pulmonary diseases. This risk is compounded further if the worker smokes (Hu et al. 2006).

Date Last Revised: 09/06/2012

Literature Basis

  • Chao, MR., Wang, CJ., Wu, MT., Pan, CH., Kuo, CY., Yang, HJ., Chang, LW., and Hu, CW.: Repeated measurements of urinary methylated/oxidative DNA lesions, acute toxicity, and mutagenicity in coke oven workers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 17(12):3381-3389, 2008.
  • Hu, Y., Chen, B., Yin, Z., Jia, L., Zhou, Y., and Jin, T.: Increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases in coke oven workers - interaction between occupational exposure and smoking. Thorax. 61(4):290-295, 2006.
  • Hu, Y., Qian J., Jin L., and Lu, D.: Occupational coke oven emissions exposure and risk of abnormal liver function - modifications of body mass index and hepatitis virus infection. Occup Environ Med. 67(3): 159-165, 2010.
  • Jeng, H.A., Pan, C., Chang-Chien, G., Diawara, N., Peng, C., and Wu, M.: Repeated measurements for assessment of urinary 2-napthol levels in individuals exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Journal of Environmental Science and Health. 46(8): 865-873, 2011.  
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Coke Oven Emissions. 1973.

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • sampling media: Pre-cleaned Glass Fiber Filter (37 mm)
    maximum volume: 960 Liters   
    maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
    current analytical method: Gravimetric & High Performance Liquid Chromatography; HPLC/UV/FLU
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 58)
    sampling analytical error: 0.14
    method classification: Fully Validated
    note: OSHA personnel can obtain pre-cleaned filters, vials, and Teflon-lined caps from SLTC. Submit as a separate sample. If the filter is not overloaded, samples may be collected up to an 8-hour period. After sampling, filter must be transferred to vial with a Teflon-lined cap. Sample must be protected from direct sunlight.

Conditions: Column: C18 Mobile Phase: 85:15 Acetonitrile:Water Detector Wavelength: 254nm Detection Limit:

Bulk Method: Limit the amount of bulk submitted to one gram or one mL.

Section Last Revised: 03/26/2012

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