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Coal tar pitch is an amorphous residue produced by the distillation or heat treatment of coal tar, which is a by-product of coal when it is carbonized to make coke. The production and refining of coal tar and its use in various products involves a substantial risk of exposure to a group of chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Exposure to these substances can lead to a variety of diseases, including lung and other respiratory cancers, bladder cancer and skin cancer. Harmful exposure occurs when the tar or refined products made from the tar are heated and give off dust and fumes, called coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs).

Coal tar pitch is commonly used during the construction of industrial and commercial roofing. Roofers handling coal tar pitch or those who handled coal tar pitch are particularly at risk of developing cancer. Exposure to fumes from hot coal tar pitch has been linked to lung, throat, skin, and bladder cancers.

It was common practice during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s for roofing contractors to have their workers heat solid coal tar pitch in large kettles at construction sites. The workers operating the kettles and those carrying pails of the hot pitch up to the roofing surfaces were heavily exposed to carcinogenic CTPVs. In New York State, there were numerous contractors that engaged in these construction practices.

Medical and scientific communities have not established a “safe” level for exposure to CTPVs.

Older workers and retirees, who handled coal tar or coal tar pitch are at a significantly increased risk of developing respiratory cancer, including throat and lung cancer, as a result of work they performed twenty-five or more years ago. Cancers are latent diseases, which often do not develop for many years after initial exposure.

There is only one law firm in New York State with experience handling cases for coke oven workers, roofers, and coal tar sealer and carbon electrode production workers. If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer that you believe may be related to coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs), please contact us today, about filing possible legal claims.