Airborne exposures to PAH and PM2.5 particles for road paving workers applying conventional asphalt and crumb rubber modified asphalt

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 1998 Apr-Jun;8(2):213-29.


Personal exposure monitoring was conducted for road paving workers in three states. A research objective was to characterize and compare occupational exposures to fine respirable particles (< 2.5 microns) and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for road paving workers applying conventional (petroleum derived) asphalt and asphalt containing crumb rubber from shredded tires. Workers not exposed to asphalt fume were also included for comparison (to support the biomarker component of this study). The rubber content of the crumb rubber modified (CRM) asphalt at the three study sites was 12, 15, and 20%. A comparison of some specific job categories from two sites indicates greater potential carcinogenic PAH exposures during CRM asphalt work, however, the site with the greatest overall exposures did not indicate any differences for specific jobs. A statistical analysis of means for fine particle, pyrene and total carcinogenic PAH personal exposure shows, with two exceptions, there were no differences in exposures for these three measurement variables. One site shows significantly elevated pyrene exposure for CRM asphalt workers and another site similarly shows greater carcinogenic PAH exposure for CRM asphalt workers. Conventional and CRM asphalt worker airborne exposures to the PAH carcinogen marker, BaP, were very low with concentrations comparable to ambient air in many cities. However, this study demonstrates that asphalt road paving workers are exposed to elevated airborne concentrations of a group of unknown compounds that likely consist of the carcinogenic PAHs benz(a)anthracene, chrysene and methylated derivatives of both. The research described in this article has been reviewed in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy and approved for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution
  • Carcinogens / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Particle Size
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Transportation


  • Carcinogens
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • asphalt