Shingles are commonly used for roofs, sidewalks and walls in buildings but also for parking spaces and even the ground in certain regions.
The asphalt on these shingled surfaces is usually made from petroleum and often contains heavy metals, and there is concern that these materials may pose a health hazard to humans.
But new research from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, suggests that using recycled rubber instead of asphalt could actually help reduce the risk of health impacts.
The study is published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
In the study, the researchers evaluated the health effects of a two-part process: 1) the use of asphalt-based shingling and 2) the reuse of asphalt with recycled shinglers.
“Using recycled shingle materials in the ground is not only a good option, but also a cost-effective way to achieve health-improvement goals,” says lead author Andrea Vignola, an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
The research team analyzed the health and environmental effects of the two processes by using data from the National Household Survey on Occupational Health and Environmental Quality, which was conducted in 2008 and 2009.
This study evaluated health outcomes of workers using asphalt shingler in three parts: a) the health of the shingle itself and b) the potential impact on workers’ respiratory and heart conditions.
The researchers found that a) shinglings were associated with an overall reduced risk of respiratory disease and heart disease (relative risk [RR] 0.87, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.69-0.94), while b) recycled shings had an increased RR (RR 0.91, 95.3% CI, 0.71-0