Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2004-0184-2965, City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Street Services, Los Angeles, California.
On March 19, 2004, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a confidential employee request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at Asphalt Plant 1 of the City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Street Services (LABSS) located in Los Angeles, California. The request expressed concern about exposure to fumes, vapors, work stress, heat stress, and diesel fuel during asphalt processing at Plant 1 and during delivery of this asphalt to paving projects. The request indicated that LABSS employees had experienced a variety of health symptoms including cancer, respiratory symptoms, and hearing problems. In response to this request, NIOSH investigators conducted a site-visit on September 13-15, 2004. NIOSH investigators collected 19 general area (GA) and personal breathing zone (PBZ) air samples for total particulate with additional analysis for the benzene-soluble fraction of this particulate; 19 GA and PBZ air samples for polycyclic aromatic compounds with additional analysis for total organic sulfur compounds; 19 GA and PBZ air samples for diesel exhaust (elemental and organic carbon); and eight GA real-time, data-logged air samples for carbon monoxide. NIOSH investigators interviewed 25 of 26 employees of Asphalt Plant 1 and reviewed LABSS compensation claims, OSHA logs, and a company sick-time study. All the air sample concentrations for compounds listed above were below relevant occupational exposure criteria. The majority of interviewed workers (21 of 25) reported that they had no work-related health symptoms. Of those with symptoms, the most common was eye irritation, followed by headache. Based on the low air sample concentrations found and the low rate of work-related health complaints during medical interviews with employees, there does not appear to be a health hazard at City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Street Services, Asphalt Plant 1. The transient eye, nasal, and throat irritation symptoms reported by some employees are consistent with exposures to asphalt fumes and particulates at levels below recommended limits. The current scientific literature has determined that there is inadequate evidence that asphalt alone increases cancer risk to humans. Recommendations to minimize work exposures are provided and include the following: repair damage to existing ventilation systems, improve asphalt loading work practices, dispose of outdated personal protective equipment, and improve the existing respiratory and hearing protection programs.
Region-9; Hazards-Unconfirmed; Asphalt-fumes; Diesel-exhausts; Diesel-emissions; Exhaust-gases; Cancer; Eye-irritants; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Polycyclic-hydrocarbons; Polycyclic-aromatic-hydrocarbons; Work-practices; Sulfur-compounds; Particulates; Particulate-dust; Benzenes; Heat-stress; Fuels; Hearing-loss; Hearing-impairment; Hearing-disorders