IARC issues Health Classification for Occupational Exposures during Road Paving
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), based in Lyon, France, issued a statement on 20 October assigning occupational exposures to straight-run bitumens and their emissions during road paving a Group 2B (“possibly carcinogenic to humans”) classification. This Group 2B classification puts road paving in the same category as numerous exposures, including cell phones and coffee.
EAPA, with its colleagues in North America, the National Asphalt Paving Association (NAPA), and in the bitumen industries on both sides of the Atlantic, underwrote a series of studies that were designed and led by IARC over the last ten years or so. None of these studies reported any direct link between bitumens used in road paving and the onset of cancer in the workforce. However, with health and safety being the highest priority for the industry and its employees, EAPA will continue to work with all its stakeholders towards reducing emissions of all sorts, so as to minimise any possible irritation or other impacts from them.
IARC, which brings together international panels of scientists, is based in Lyon, France. Its assessments go to national health agencies for possible guidance. IARC has reviewed more than 900 chemicals and other agents since its founding in 1971. IARC categorizes chemicals, agents, mixtures and exposures.
To put this classification into proper context, it is worth quoting Dr. Jim Melius, PHD, MD, the top occupational physician at the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA): “People working in the asphalt paving industry should not be concerned about this new IARC classification. The two key animal studies on paving asphalt did not show any evidence of cancer risk, and the major IARC cancer study of people working in the paving industry in Europe did not show any increased risk for cancer.”