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
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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