Is Bitumen Dangerous?

While we are extremely proud of the work that we do here at BituChem and amazed at the ingenuity of our clients, it’s important we recognise the health and safety requirements of our industry. Bitumen products can be dangerous if mishandled — but only if they’re still in their hot liquid state. The truth is that once cured, bitumen is as safe as a wooden floor.

Why Is Bitumen Sometimes Dangerous?

It’s important to emphasize that bitumen products are only dangerous when they’re hot and still curing. This is because of two reasons:

  1. As they cure, bitumen products release fumes
  2. The process involved in their creation

How Bitumen Products Are Made

Whether naturally occurring or derived from petroleum, bitumen is a hydrocarbon very similar to crude oil. In its simplest form, it has a consistency similar to crude oil, with a similar rate of impurities. In order to turn it into something useful, the petroleum-like bitumen compound is purified and then mixed with industrial solvents.

In its liquid state, this new material is extremely flammable. If breathed in, its fumes can cause coughing, a scratchy throat, headaches, skin rashes, eye irritation and lung problems. Ultimately, breathing in this material can lead to long-term damage.


Because of these risks, the ideal environment for bitumen application is one with a lot of ventilation. Bituminous materials should only be laid by well-trained and experienced professionals. Anyone laying hot bituminous material should be wearing the proper health and safety equipment — which can involve a breathing mask depending on where the work is being done.

One way of avoiding the majority of health and safety risks of bituminous materials is to use one that can be laid cold — such as our Coldseal product — as the basis of your surfacing. Coldlay products cure like other bituminous products. However, they do so without heat. This means that they don’t release fumes in the same way as traditional bituminous products do — they only start to cure once they have been compacted. This means a much lower risk for the people laying the material.

Is Bitumen Dangerous?

Ultimately, while no industrial product is not without its health and safety risks, as long as the proper health and safety precautions are being followed, bitumen products are perfectly safe. By the time the public comes into bituminous products, they are almost certainly cured solid. In this state, bitumen is as dangerous as a wooden floor.

Contact Us Today For Further Information & Advice

For more health and safety information about any of our products, or to hear more about BituChem’s Coldseal product, get in touch with us today. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have. We can even arrange a CPD session at your own workplace to discuss the benefits and features of BituChem surfacing and Coldseal.