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Coke oven emissions
  • Coke is used mainly in steel production.
  • Coke oven workers are at increased risk for respiratory diseases and cancer of the lung, urinary tract, and skin.

Coke oven emissions are a complex mixture of particulates, vapors, and gases that result from the destructive distillation of bituminous coal in the production of coke. Coke is used mainly in the production of steel.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)’s regulation at 1910.1029 applies to the control of employee exposure to coke oven emissions, but does not apply to working conditions with regard to which other federal agencies exercise statutory authority to prescribe or enforce standards affecting occupational safety and health.

Coke oven workers have an increased risk of developing cancer of the lung, urinary tract, and skin. This risk is related to the area of employment and the length of employment. For example, workers employed at the top of the oven have the greatest risk, followed by part-time topside and side oven jobs.

Exposure to coke oven emissions increases the risk of respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema. Smoking habits, previous exposure in a dusty industry or environment, and oven work increase the risk of these diseases.

Effects of exposure, such as cancer, may not show up for 15 to 25 years.