• Hoang N. Ho-PhamEmail author
  • Howard I. MaibachEmail author
Reference work entry


Reroofing is an increasing large percentage of the roofing market. Therefore, roofers are exposed to materials used with today’s technology as well as materials in the past. Commercial roofers have a greater amount of occupational skin disease compared to residential roofers. The most common skin disorder is “tar smarts,” a phototoxic reaction from exposure to pitch. Type III bitumen, found in most coal tar pitch today, has less irritants reducing the incidence of “tar smarts.” Other common cutaneous findings include chemical burns, allergic and irritant contact dermatitis, folliculitis/pitch acne, and precancerous and cancerous lesions.


Roofers dermatitis Roofing dermatitis Bitumen 


  1. Anttila P, Heikkilä P, Mäkelä M et al (2009) Retrospective exposure assessment for carcinogenic agents in bitumen waterproofing industry in Finland and Denmark. Ann Occup Hyg 53:139–151PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bleumink E, Mitchell JC, Nater JP (1973) Allergic contact dermatitis from cedar wood (Thuja plicata). Br J Dermatol 88:499–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bosetti BP, La Vecchia C (2007) Occupational exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and respiratory and urinary tract cancers: a quantitative review to 2005. Ann Oncol 18:431–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Botes J (2010) Thatch roofing – the construction procedure. Accessed 16 May 2010
  5. Daecke CM, Schaller J, Goom M (1994) Der stellenwert patientenesgener testsubstanzes bel der epikutantesting. Hautarzt 45:292–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Diette KM, Gange RW, Stern RS et al (1983) Coal tar phototoxicity: kinetics and exposure parameters. J Invest Dermatol 81:347–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Edlich RF, Winters KL, Long WB 3rd (2005a) Treated wood preservatives linked to aquatic damage, human illness and death – a social problem. J Long-Term Eff Med Implants 15:209–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Edlich RF, Winters KL, Long WB 3rd et al (2005b) Use of treated woods in roof assembly. J Long-Term Eff Med Implants 15:369–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Emmett EA (1986) Cutaneous and ocular hazards of roofers. Occup Med 1:307–322PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Emmett EA, Stetzer L, Taphorn B (1977) Phototoxic keratoconjunctivitis from coal-tar pitch volatiles. Science 198:841–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. EPDM Roofing Association (2010) Accessed 16 May 2010
  12. Grandahl K, Eriksen P, Ibler KS, Bonde JP (2018) Measurements of solar ultraviolet radiation exposure at work and at lesiure in Danish workers. Photochem Photobiol 94:807–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hall AH (2002) Chronic arsenic poisoning. Toxicol Lett 128:69–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hammond EC, Selikoff IJ, Hawther PL et al (1976) Inhalation of benzopryrene and cancer in man. Ann N Y Acad Sci 271:116–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hamula C, Wang Z, Zhang H et al (2006) Chromium on the hands of children after playing in playgrounds built from chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood. Environ Sci Technol 42:3739–3744Google Scholar
  16. Herbert R, Gerr F, Luo J et al (1995) Peripheral neurologic abnormalities among roofing workers: sentinel case and clinical screening. Arch Environ Health 50:349–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (1985) Polynuclear aromatic compounds, Part 4. In: Bitumen, coal tar and derived products, shale oils and soots, vol 35. IARC, LyonGoogle Scholar
  18. International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France International Labour Office (1983) Encyclopedia of occupational health and safety, vols I and II. International Labour Office, Geneva, p 2148Google Scholar
  19. Kaidbey KH, Kligman AM (1974) A human model of coal tar acne. Arch Dermatol 109:212–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kanerva L, Henriks-Eckerman ML, Jolanki R et al (1997) Plastics/acrylics: material safety data sheets need to be improved. Clin Dermatol 15:533–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kilpikari I, Halme H (1983) Contact allergy to hypalon rubber. Contact Dermatitis 9:529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kwon E, Zhang H, Wang Z et al (2004) Arsenic on the hands of children after playing in playgrounds. Environ Health Perspect 112:1375–1380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Environmental Energy Technologies Division (2010) Accessed 16 May 2010
  24. Mackison FW, Stricoff RS, Partridge LJ (1981) Occupational health guidelines for chemical hazards. DHHS (NIOSH) publication no. 81–123 (3 vols). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CincinnatiGoogle Scholar
  25. Partanen T, Boffetta P (1994) Cancer risk in asphalt workers and roofers: review and meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. Am J Ind Med 26:721–740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Peckruhn M, Elsner P (2014) Missed occupational disease due to tar (BK 5102) in a roofer – syncancerogenesis with UV light. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 12:619–620PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Radivojevic S, Cooper PA (2008) Extraction of hexavalent chromium form chromate copper arsenate treated wood under alkaline conditions. Environ Sci Technol 15:3739–3744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Renz BM, Sherman R (1994) Hot tar burns: twenty-seven hospitalized cases. J Burn Care Rehabil 15:341–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Riala R, Heikkilä P, Kanerva L (1998) A questionnaire study of road pavers’ and roofers’ work-related skin symptoms and bitumen exposure. Int J Dermatol 37:27–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Searle CE (1976) Chemical carcinogens. American Chemical Society monograph, vol 173. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, p 318Google Scholar
  31. Shalat SL, Solo-Gabriele HM, Fleming LE et al (2006) A pilot study of children’s exposure to CCA-treated wood from playground equipment. Sci Total Environ 367:80–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stern FB, Ruder AM, Chen G (2000) Proportionate mortality among unionized roofers and waterproofers. Am J Ind Med 37:478–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stocks SJ, Turker S, McNamee R et al (2011) Occupation and work-related ill-health in UK construction workers. Occup Med 61:407–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC National Roofing Contractors Association (2010) Accessed 16 May 2010
  35. Zenz C (1988) Occupational medicine – principles and practical applications, 2nd edn. Mosby-Yearbook, St. Louis, p 714Google Scholar
  36. Zink A, Wurstbauer D, Rotter M et al (2017) Do outdoor workers know their risk of NMSC? Perceptions, beliefs, and preventive behavior among farmers, roofers, and gardeners. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 31:1649–1654CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Dermatology, University of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations