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Identifying Exposure Concerns to Asphalt Fumes

EMSL Analytical, Inc. provides testing and sampling to identify asphalt fumes to protect workers and the public from exposure hazards.

Cinnaminson, NJ – WEBWIRE
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations

Asphalt, or bitumen, as it is called in many other parts of the world, is found in natural deposits or can be obtained by refining crude oil. The primary use of asphalt is for road construction where it is mixed with aggregate particles. It is also commonly used to seal flat roofs and in waterproofing products, such as roof felt and shingles.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), over a half-million workers are exposed to fumes from asphalt. Health effects from exposure to asphalt fumes include headache, skin rash, sensitization, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation, cough and skin cancer. The agency goes on to state that exposure to asphalt fumes can cause serious injury and permanent damage and that workers that may be exposed to asphalt fumes need to be aware of the potential hazards.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that the complex chemical composition of asphalt makes it difficult to identify the specific component(s) responsible for adverse health effects observed in exposed workers. Known carcinogens have been found in asphalt fumes generated at work sites. Observations of acute irritation in workers from airborne, dermal exposures to asphalt fumes, aerosols and the potential for chronic health effects, including cancer, warrant continued diligence in the control of exposures. NIOSH also reports that asphalt fumes generated at high temperatures are probably more likely to generate carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than fumes generated at lower temperatures.

“Today, OSHA does not have a standard for asphalt fumes although it proposed a permissible exposure limit almost 25 years ago,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “At EMSL, we offer asphalt fume, PAH and other testing services to help protect workers and the public from exposure to potentially hazardous materials. Testing is instrumental for identifying environments where people are being exposed to these substances so that corrective actions can be implemented.”

EMSL also recently sponsored a video about asphalt fumes and occupational exposure concerns that can be seen at:

To learn more about testing for asphalt fumes, PAHs or other environmental, air quality, occupational or health and safety services, please visit, email  or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical, Inc. is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality, consumer product and materials testing services and products for professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies. 

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