November 2002

Owens Corning studies asphalt fumes

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Studies of asphalt fume exposures reveal positive news for the industry

by Bill Fayerweather, Ph.D., MPH and Dave Trumbore, Ph.D.
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During the past 20 years, sporadic reports in scientific literature have suggested a possible link between asphalt fume exposure and respiratory disease. These reports have tended to be confounded by occupational agents, such as coal tar, and lifestyle-related factors, such as cigarette smoking, thereby raising questions about the validity of any links to asphalt fumes.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also continues to have interest in the respiratory health effects of asphalt fumes and has published a number of scientific investigations and health reviews about the subject.

NIOSH's studies and those of the scientific community have affected the roofing industry—particularly in relation to employee health and safety. But recent studies by Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning reveal the effects of worker exposure to asphalt fumes could have been overstated.


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