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Coal tar and paving products.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a partnership relationship with the asphalt paving and roofing industries and their associated unions. Our partners saw in the EHP Focus article "Paving Paradise: The Peril of Impervious Surfaces" (Frazer 2005) the statement on page A459: "Asphalt is one concern, as it contains coal tar pitch, a recognized human carcinogen...." Our partners asked us if we could help them address this statement.

By definition, asphalt is a petroleum product and contains no coal tar. However, some pavement-repair products and sealants may contain coal tar. NIOSH did not find any evidence of coal tar in U.S. asphalt in our hazard review Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Asphalt (NIOSH 2000.

The author declares he has no competing financial interests.

Editor's note: The following erratum was published in the January 2006 issue (Environ Health Perspect 114:A21):

EHP regrets the incorrect and unintentional inference in "Paving Paradise: The Peril of Impervious Surfaces" [Environ Health Perspect 113:A456-A462 (2005)] that coal tar pitch is used in the actual hot-mix asphalt used to pave roads. Coal tar pitch is instead used in many sealcoat formulations used atop asphalt pavement. Findings published in the 1 August 2005 issue of Environmental Science & Technology suggest, in fact, that coal tar-based parking lot sealant may be a major contributor to stream loads of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including many known carcinogens.

REFERENCES

Frazer L. 2005. Paving paradise: the peril of impervious surfaces. Environ Health Perspect 113:A457-A462.

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). 2000. Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Asphalt, NIOSH Publication no. 2001-110). Available: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pdfs/01-110.pdf [accessed 3 March 2006].

Paul A. Schulte

Education and Information Division National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cincinnati, Ohio

E-mail: pas4@cdc.gov
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Title Annotation:Perspectives: Correspondence
Author:Schulte, Paul A.
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Words:308
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