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.

May 26, 1983

Mr. T. C. Moseley
American Gilsonite Company
1150 Kennecott Building
Salt Lake City, Utah 84133

Dear Mr. Moseley:

This is in response to your letter of March 23, 1983, in which you requested that "natural asphaltums," including "Gilsonite," be specifically exempted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Coal Tar Pitch Violatiles (CTPV) Standard.

The Agency believes that the letter Wrenn, former Director of OSHA's Office of Federal Compliance and State Programs to Mr. Joseph R. Coupal, Jr., of the Asphalt Institute, which you enclosed with your letter, clearly establishes that natural or mined asphalts do not fall within the scope of the CTPV standard. Again, the CTPV standard, as stated in 29 CFR 1910.1002, applies to emissions only from products that are residues of distillation processes. Thus, "natural" or mined asphalts, which are not distillation residues, do not fall under the CTPV standard.

I hope this information will be helpful to you. Please contact me if you have further questions on this matter.


R. Leonard Vance
Health Standards Programs

September 7, 1979

Mr. Joseph R. Coupal, Jr.
The Asphalt Institute
College Park, Maryland 20740

Dear Mr. Coupal:

This is in response to your letters to Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall concerning OSHA standards for employee exposure to asphalt. I apologize for the delay in providing you with a written response to your earlier inquiry.

You have raised objections to material contained in the booklet "Health Hazards of Roofing Materials: Coal-Tar-Pitch and Asphalt," which is part of OSHA's Cancer Alert Series published in 1978. Specifically, you objected to the booklet's implication that asphalt and coal-tar-pitch are equally hazardous. The booklet outlines the health dangers of exposure to coal tar, and its implication is that asphalt exposure should be treated with caution and similar safeguards because asphalt often contains many of the same chemical carcinogens found in coal-tar-pitch. As I informed you in our phone conversations, this booklet is now being revised. While this revision is undertaken further distribution of the booklet has been halted. OSHA's Regional and Area Offices have been advised of the revision, and have been told to stop distribution of the booklet. A copy of the memorandum initiating this action is enclosed for your information.

Additionally each Regional Office of OSHA was called on June 11, 1979, to advise them that the booklet "Health Hazards of Roofing Materials: Coal-Tar-Pitch and Asphalt" was being withdrawn and was not to be distributed. (See the enclosed memo from Baldwin to Brinkerhoff.) A notice was also made in our "OETopics" of June 1979 (copy enclosed). In your letter of August 2, 1979, you stated that your field engineers were able to obtain copies of two of the Cancer Alert Series booklets from five of our Regional Offices. In order to make sure that this situation is corrected, I have called Ms. Clinton Wright, Director of Training, Education, Consultation and Federal Agency Programs, and have suggested that a memo be sent to all Regional Administrators directing that remaining copies of "Health Hazards of Roofing Materials: Coal-Tar-Pitch and Asphalt" be destroyed in order they will not be inadvertently sent out. A copy of my memo to Ms. Wright is enclosed.

You also expressed interest in a pamphlet entitled "More Than a Paycheck: An Introduction to Occupational Cancer" which contains a table listing asphalt as a carcinogen related to the roofing trades. The pamphlet is also a part of OSHA's Cancer Alert Series, and it is intended to be used in conjunction with a documentary half-hour film by the same name. I have been advised by the OSHA Office of Training and Education that this pamphlet will not be reprinted until it has been revised to make it consistent with the revised version of the booklet "Health Hazards of Roofing Materials."

The standard for employee exposure to coal-tar-pitch volatiles was adopted by OSHA in 1971. This standard was based on the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit values (TLV's) of airborne contaminants published in 1968, and adopted under the Walsh-Healey Act in 1969. The standard is found at 29 CFR 1910.1000, Table Z-1, and establishes a permissible exposure limit of 0.2 milligrams per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour day. Additionally, the term "Coal-Tar-Pitch Volatiles" is explained in 29 CFR 1910.1002, which states "as used in 29 CFR 1910.1000, Table Z-1, coal-tar- pitch volatiles include the fused polycyclic hydrocarbons which volatilize from the distillation residues of coal, petroleum, wood, and other organic matter."

Although asphalt is produced differently than coal-tar-pitch and may have different uses and physical properties, like coal-tar-pitch it is a complex mixture of materials including polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons such as anthracene, acridine, pyrene, chrysene, phenanthrene and benzo(a)pyrene. Many of these same polycyclic hydrocarbons may be detected in the volatile emissions from both asphalt and coal-tar-pitch. The coal-tar-pitch volatiles standard, as stated in 29 CFR 1910.1002, applies to volatile emissions from the distillation residues of coal, petroleum, wood, and other organic matter. Therefore, the coal-tar-pitch volatiles standard applies to volatile emissions from asphalt which is a distillation residue of coal, petroleum, wood, and other organic matter. On the other hand, the coal-tar- pitch volatiles standard does not apply to "natural" or mined asphalt such as "Trinidad" since these forms of asphalt are not distillation residues of coal, petroleum, wood, and other organic matters.

Air sampling techniques for determining employee exposure to asphalt volatiles and coal-tar-pitch volatiles are the same. Air is drawn through a pre-filter pad, a silver membrane filter and a back-up pad, all in an open face filter cassette. After sampling, the cassette is capped, sealed, labeled, and sent to the Salt Lake City OSHA Laboratory for analysis.

At the Salt Lake City OSHA Laboratory, the sample is dissolved in benzene in an ultrasonic extraction method and the benzene soluble fraction is determined. In this fraction, the OSHA laboratory has for several years looked for the presence of benzo(a)pyrene and may also look for one or more of the following: anthracene, acridine, pyrene, chrysene, and phenanthrene.

Finally, citations will be issued for violations of the coal-tar-pitch volatiles standard only if the following conditions are met.

1. At the time of inspection employees are found to be exposed to volatile emissions from distillation residues of coal, petroleum, wood, or other organic matter, and

2. Samples obtained to determine employee exposure to the volatile emissions are found to contain more than 0.2 mg. of benzene-soluble material per cubic meter of air, and

3. Laboratory analysis of the benzene-soluble fraction described in (2) confirms the presence of benzo(a)pyrene and/or one or more of the five additionally named fused polycyclic hydrocarbons to which the standard refers: anthracene, acridine, pyrene, chrysene and phenanthrene.

I welcome your comments, and particularly any additional technical information that you may want to provide. I hope this information clarifies OSHA's interpretation of the coal-tar-pitch volatiles standard and the policies and procedures followed in its application.


Grover Wrenn
Federal Compliance and State Programs