Jul 29


Asphalt Fumes

Category: Toolbox Talks
Asphalt has been known to cause minor health effects such as headaches, nausea, and drowsiness. It has also been linked to lung cancer. Most of the asphalt used in the United States is in paving and roofing. The remaining uses include waterproofing, damp-proofing, insulation and paints.

Here is an Example:
Bill is an asphalt kettle operator for a roofing company. He is careful to use personal protective equipment including hard hat, face shield, long sleeve shirt, gloves, goggles and leather work boots. He keeps the area cleaned up and has a fully charged ABC fire extinguisher nearby. Bill started having a headache, drowsiness and nausea on the job so he took a week vacation. When he returned, his co- workers showed him the new kettle that had been acquired because the old one had a damaged lid that had been leaking fumes.

1. What do you think caused the difference in Bill?
2. Do you have any of the same symptoms that Bill had?

Protection Against Asphalt Fumes:
Potential exposures related to operation of the kettle include both continuous exposure to fumes that escape from the kettle during operation and occasional exposures when opening the lid to fill
or load the kettle. Currently, no OSHA standard exists for asphalt fumes. Respirator use may be called for if available engineering controls and work practices can’t control asphalt fume exposures to concentrations below the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit.

Best Practices:
  •  Place the kettle downwind where the operator and others will be least exposed.
  •  Maintain kettle temperatures at least 25 degrees below the flash point of the asphalt to prevent fires.
  •  Select an insulated kettle that is the right size for the job.
  •  Make sure it has temperature controls and the right pumping capacity for it’s size.
  •  Make sure the kettle is in good operating condition. Report any defects to the foreman or superintendent. Remove all potential fire hazards from the area.
  •  Keep a fully charged ABC-type fire extinguisher near the kettle or hot work.

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