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Asphalt (Bitumen). Concise International Chemical Assessment Document (CICAD) No. 59.

Wess JA; Olsen LD; Sweeney MH
Concise International Chemical Assessment Document (CICAD) No. 59. International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2004 Jan; :1-50
This CICAD on asphalt (bitumen) was based upon a review prepared by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, 2000). Additional data were identified through an updated literature search to February 2003. Information on the peer review of the source document is presented in Appendix 1. Information on the peer review of this CICAD is presented in Appendix 2. This CICAD was approved as an international assessment at a meeting of the Final Review Board, held in Varna, Bulgaria, on 8-11 September 2003. Participants at the Final Review Board meeting are listed in Appendix 3. The International Chemical Safety Card on asphalt (lCSC 0162), produced by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (lPCS, 2002), has also been reproduced in this document. Asphalt, more commonly referred to as bitumen in Europe, is a dark brown to black, cement-like semisolid or solid or viscous liquid produced by the non-destructive distillation of crude oil during petroleum refining. Oxidized asphalt, also called air-blown or air-refined asphalt, is asphalt that has been treated by blowing air through it at elevated temperatures to produce physical properties required for the industrial use of the final product. Performance specifications (e.g., paving asphalts and roofing asphalts), not chemical composition, direct asphalt production. The exact chemical composition of asphalt is dependent on the chemical complexity of the original crude petroleum and the manufacturing process. Crude petroleum consists mainly of aliphatic compounds, cyclic alkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), and metals (e.g., iron, nickel, and vanadium). The proportions of these chemicals can vary greatly because of significant differences in crude petroleum from oil field to oil field or even at different locations in the same oil field. While the manufacturing process may change the physical properties of asphalt dramatically, the chemical nature of the asphalt does not change unless thermal cracking occurs. Although no two asphalts are chemically identical and chemical analysis cannot be used to define the exact chemical structure or chemical composition of asphalt, elemental analyses indicate that most asphalts contain 79-88 weight per cent (wt%) carbon, 7-13 wt% hydrogen, traces to 8 wt% sulfur, 2-8 wt% oxygen, and traces to 3 wt% nitrogen. When asphalts are heated, vapours are released; as these vapours cool, they condense. As such, these vapours are enriched in the more volatile components present in the asphalt and would be expected to be chemically and potentially toxicologically distinct from the parent material. Asphalt fumes are the cloud of small particles created by condensation from the gaseous state after volatilization of asphalt. However, because the components in the vapour do not condense all at once, workers are exposed not only to asphalt fumes but also to vapours. The physical nature of the fumes and vapours has not been well characterized. Nevertheless, a chemical analysis of oxidized roofing asphalt and non oxidized paving asphalt fumes identified many of the same chemical classes. In addition, differences in the way in which asphalts are handled during paving and roofing operations probably influence the composition of asphalt fumes and vapours. Since the compositions of asphalts and asphalt fumes and vapours vary depending on temperature, manufacturing process, presence of additives and modifiers, and work practices, it should be no surprise to learn that laboratory-generated asphalt fumes that mimic asphalt fumes in the environment are difficult to produce. Researchers have concluded that temperature, rate of stirring, and pulling versus pushing the collection air all affect the chemical composition of the fumes. The major types of asphalt products are paving asphalts and roofing asphalts. Asphalt is also used in asphalt-based paints as protective coatings to prevent corrosion of metals; in lining irrigation canals, water reservoirs, dams, and sea defence works; in adhesives in electrical laminates; and as a base for synthetic turf. In the USA, approximately 300,000 workers are employed at hot-mix asphalt facilities and paving sites; an estimated 50,000 workers are employed in asphalt roofing operations; and about 1,500-2,000 workers are employed in approximately 100 roofing manufacturing plants. In Western Europe, there are approximately 4,000 asphalt mixing plants employing 5-10 individuals per plant. Approximately 100,000 members of paving crews apply these asphalt mixes to road surfaces across Western Europe.
Bitumens; Chemical-analysis; Chemical-composition; Chemical-properties; Chemical-structure; Asphalt-industry; Exposure-assessment; Health-hazards; Biological-effects; Construction-Search
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Concise International Chemical Assessment Document (CICAD) No. 59. International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS)
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World Health Organization
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division