OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

(Letter undated)

Mr. Robert A. Georgine
President, Building and Construction
Trades Department
815 Sixteenth Street, N.W.
Suite 603
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Mr. Georgine:

This is in response to your letter dated April 8, 1983 in which you ask that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) undertake rulemaking to develop a new standard for petroleum asphalt.

OSHA believes that removal of petroleum asphalt from coverage under the Coal Tar Pitch Volatiles (CTPV) Standard was appropriate based on both scientific and technical considerations. Data indicate that there are qualitative and quantitative chemical differences between the volatiles arising from coal tar and asphalt. For example, a 1982 study by Niemeier et al., comparing the skin carcinogenicity of "roofing asphalt" and "coal tar pitch" fumes reported that the asphalt fume material contains less than one percent aromatic hydrocarbons (the hydrocarbons listed in 1910.1000 as CTPV's) while the coal tar pitch fume contains more than 90 percent aromatic hydrocarbons. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) criteria documents for asphalt (1977) and coal tar products (1977) support this distinction. In addition, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' 1966 Documentation of Threshold Limit Values leaves little doubt that the recommended limit of 0.2 mg/m3 for CTPV's was not intented to apply to volatiles arising from asphalt because of this quantitative difference.

OSHA does recognize, however, that asphalt fumes can present a health hazard to employees. This Agency is presently reviewing the degree of this hazard with NIOSH in order to determine the urgency of undertaking rulemaking on asphalt. Your letter will be considered as a petition for OSHA to develop a new standard for asphalt and will be responded to upon conclusion of our deliberations with NIOSH.

Please contact my office if I can be of further assistance in this matter.


Thorne G. Auchter
Assistant Secretary