Yes, roof tars can irritate the airways and aggravate the condition of a person with asthma or other lung conditions. People with asthma should avoid breathing in tar fumes from the roof. Low-slope hot tar roofs often use a constructed roofing system that is manufactured on site using layers of felts and hot-applied asphalt or coal tar pitch. Hot tar is usually heated in the workplace in a teapot and is the main source of fumes.
Rubber roofs are another type of low-slope roofing system. Adhesives used during rubber roofing projects can emit large quantities of volatile organic chemicals (VOC). Work planning, configuration, and advanced job site preparation are important to help minimize exposure of workers and building occupants to asphalt vapors or VOCs. The strong stench created by these roofs is due to the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are released into the atmosphere.
Both coal tar and modified bitumen release high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens and have been reported to cause serious health complications in humans. In general, these same VOCs also cause the pungent odors that attack the olfactory senses of anyone near a newly constructed asphalt road or tar roof (modified bitumen or coal tar). The fumes emitted by hot tar are unhealthy. They can cause headaches and a feeling of illness if you breathe for too long or with too high a concentration.
Exposure of pregnant women to tar fumes from roofs can cause birth defects in their babies, according to literature published by the University of Western Ontario. Roofing tar fumes can also irritate people with asthma or other respiratory problems. Hydrogen sulfide is present in roofing tar and is the compound that gives tar its characteristic and unpleasant odor. After the tar is passed with a hot mop on the roof, it cools down again into a solid form, creating a waterproof seal.
More than half a million workers are exposed to asphalt fumes, a petroleum product that is widely used in road paving, roofing, cladding and concrete work. A few weeks ago I discovered that there was a tar floor (old ceiling) under the wooden floor in my work room. Liquid EPDM rubber roofing liners are of high quality, but adding a polyurethane elastomeric coating will help further ensure overall roof protection. For example, in BUR roofing applications, a giant boiler is heated to 200°C or higher to keep the bitumen in a semi-liquid state.
If the building has windows that can be operated, they should not be opened, unless downwind of the equipment and roofing materials. Depending on the application, tars must undergo further refinement before they can be used as asphalt or bitumen for roof, boat or road applications. When roof replacement work is taking place in your building or home, it's important to know how it can affect you or your family's health. If you and your children have respiratory problems such as asthma and lung problems, inhaling these tar odors from the roof will affect them.
No long-term health consequences expected from levels found inside buildings during roofing projects. Be sure to consult with reputable roofers in Tampa, such as Affordable Roofing Systems, who have the experience and resources to keep pollution to a minimum, without jeopardizing the health of building occupants. While there is no evidence to directly indicate that tar odors from the roof can cause cancer, there are epidemiological studies that show that asphalt workers may be susceptible to skin and lung cancer risks. Roof tar, an essential roofing supply used to repair roof leaks, may cause some harm to people who use it, but the effects on people exposed to it are reportedly short-term.