Construction workers are being cautioned to lower their exposure to asphalt fumes. Despite warnings from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene, OSHA has yet to publish a permissible exposure limit to the contaminant. More than 50,000 workers are exposed to the fumes every year. According to OSHA, exposure can result in headache, skin rash, fatigue, throat and eye irritation, cough, reduced appetite and skin cancer.
The complex characteristics of asphalt fumes makes it difficult to understand the link between specific components and adverse health effects in workers. Until OSHA better defines regulation and exposure limits to this carcinogenic fume, workers are urged to use the necessary personal protective equipment while working with asphalt.