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Gaps in scientific knowledge about the carcinogenic potential of asphalt/bitumen fumes.
J Occup Environ Hyg 2007 Jan; 4(Suppl 1):3-5
Despite a relatively large body of published research, the potential carcinogenicity of asphalt/bitumen fumes is still a vexing question. Various uncertainties and gaps in scientific knowledge need to be addressed. These include uncertainties in chemistry, animal studies, and human studies. The chemistry of asphalt/bitumen fumes is complex and varies according to the source of the crude oil and the application parameters. The epidemiological studies, while showing weak evidence of lung cancer, are inconsistent and many confounding factors have not been addressed. Studies of animal exposure are also inconsistent regarding laboratory and field-generated fumes. There is a need for further human studies that address potential confounding factors such as smoking, diet, coal tar, and diesel exposures. Animal inhalation studies need to be conducted with asphalt/bitumen fumes that are chemically representative of roofing and paving fumes. Underlying all of this is the need for continued characterization of fumes so their use in animal and field studies can be properly assessed. Nonetheless, uncertainties such as these should not preclude appropriate public health actions to protect workers in the even that asphalt fumes are found to be a carcinogenic hazard.
Asphalt-fumes; Bitumens; Fumes; Airborne-particles; Lung-cancer; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Cancer-rates; Carcinogens; Vapors
Paul A. Schulte, EID/NIOSH, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS-C14, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA
Issue of Publication
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division