Coke Oven Emissions

What are coke oven emissions?

Coke oven emissions come from large ovens that are used to heat coal to produce coke, which is used to manufacture iron and steel. The emissions are complex mixtures of dust, vapors, and gases that typically include carcinogens such as cadmium and arsenic. Chemicals recovered from coke oven emissions are used as raw materials for producing items such as plastics, solvents, dyes, paints, and insulation.

How are people exposed to coke oven emissions?

Workers at coking plants and coal-tar production plants may be exposed to coke oven emissions. Occupational exposures can also occur among workers in the aluminum, steel, graphite, electrical, and construction industries. The primary routes of potential human exposure to coke oven emissions are inhalation and absorption through the skin.

Which cancers are associated with exposure to coke oven emissions?

Exposure to coke oven emissions is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.

How can exposures be reduced?

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration provides information about exposure limits for coke oven emissions.

Selected References:

  • Air Toxics Web Site. Coke Oven Emissions. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2013. Available online. Last accessed December 16, 2014.
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer. Coke Production, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 100F. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, 2012. Also available online. Last accessed December 12, 2014.
  • National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Coke Oven Emissions, NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010. Also available online. Last accessed December 16, 2014.
  • National Toxicology Program. Coke-Oven Emissions, Report on Carcinogens, Thirteenth Edition. Triangle Park, NC: National Institute of Environmental Health and Safety, 2014. Also available online. Last accessed December 12, 2014.