“Asphalt” is a mixture of crushed rock, sand and gravel held together with cement made from petroleum products. Used in paving roads, roofing, and other applications, asphalt must be at least 300 degrees to be spread, so it is mixed and heated right before being loaded onto trucks for immediate use.

In North Carolina, about 150 “hot-mix” asphalt plants produce an average of 100,000 tons of asphalt a year, each.

The asphalt industry’s proposal to reduce the distance between homes and plants in Durham is only one of several ongoing controversies across the state. In Chatham County, citizens are mounting a protest campaign against the expansion of the S.T. Wooten Co. asphalt plant, and in Swain County in western North Carolina, residents are battling a plant proposed by HMC Paving.

For more information, see:

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (


U.S. Dept. of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (http://www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/asphaltfumes/)

The N.C. Division of Air Quality (http://daq.state.nc.us/quick/asphalt/)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s December 2000 report on asphalt plant emissions (http://www.epa.gov/ttn/emc/asphalt/ea-report.pdf)