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It is an overarching objective for Nynas to minimise the impact of its products on health, safety and the environment. Playing a key role in this work is Product HSE.
Product HSE is a central support and expert function that assists Nynas in all operational areas and markets.
“This means that we cover a number of areas of responsibility,” says Karin Hennung, Manager Product HSE. “It involves everything from making sure that Nynas products comply with current chemical legislation to evaluating possible hazards and risks, and offering guidance, both internally and externally, on the safe use of our products.”
Regarding bitumen in particular, the main focus is reducing the risks when it is being handled.
“Bitumen itself is not classified as hazardous to health or the environment,” continues Karin Hennung. “But because bitumen is normally used at elevated temperatures, it is of course important that handling takes place in the safest possible way.”
In addition to the risk of burn injuries, the relatively high temperature means that staff working in paving operations or are handling the asphalt in other ways can beexposed to bitumen fumes, which in high concentrations can cause irritation.
“Bitumen fumes have been on the agenda for many decades, and through the years we have conducted various research projects related to such exposure. In many cases these have been projects conducted primarily together with other stakeholders via European industry associations and other international organisations.”
As temperature is a key factor in reducing bitumen emissions, the challenge is to keep handling temperatures as low as possible. In other words, asphalt with a reduced temperature, such as warmmix asphalt (WMA), is good for the work environment.
Another important aspect on which the experts within Product HSE are focusing is finding different ways to contribute to sustainable development.
“The advantage is that bitumen is a sustainable construction material with a very long useful life, and it’s also completely reusable. It’s important to maintain these parameters in all development work,” believes Karin Hennung.
Nynas has always played an active role in various international industry organisations. For bitumen, two of the main ones are Concawe and Eurobitume. This type of cooperation stimulates the sharing of experiences and skills development.
“Our toxicologist Anna Steneholm, for example, is chairing the group within Concawe that is responsible for assessing the health hazard of petroleum products and, as required, conducting additional studies to meet the requirements of the European chemicals legislation REACH*,” says Karin Hennung, who is herself a member of Eurobitume’s HSE committee, which she also previously chaired for a five-year period.
* REACH contains, among other things, rules on the registration of substances, bans or other restrictions on substances, requirements for permits for particularly hazardous substances and rules about informing customers.
Manager, M.Sc. Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology
Group Specialist Toxicology, PhD in Medical Science, Karolinska Institute
Product HSE Advisor, B.Sc, Environmental Science and Physics, Lund University
Product HSE Advisor, M.Sc. Technical Biology, Umeå University