Pediatric Environmental Health Asphalt fumes by HC120729174836


									                                                                    University of California, San Francisco
                                                                    c/o California Poison Control System
                                                                    San Francisco Division, Box 1369
                                                                    San Francisco, CA 94143-1369

February 19, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

The multi-year asphalt (hot mop) re-roofing of a community of homes (Antelope, CA) has been brought
to my attention as the director of the University of California, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty
Unit prompting this letter. I have reviewed the TASC Asphalt Roofing Tar Summary draft report
created for this community and would like to add a few comments from my perspective.

The constituents of the fumes that neighbors are forced to inhale by virtue of living near an ongoing
roofing activity include known carcinogens (PAHs), skin and respiratory irritants, and unpleasant strong
odors. Children, by virtue of their higher minute ventilation and outdoor play activities, are potentially
at risk for greater exposure to these hazards than an adult residing at the same location. Since children
are growing and developing they are also susceptible to different and more severe health impacts.
Children’s airways are smaller, still growing, and developing, potentially putting them at greater risk for
developing or exacerbating underlying asthma. Asthma accounts for a substantial proportion of
children’s hospitalizations in California. Any carcinogen exposure early in life may be considered to
include a higher risk to those exposed as a result of the rapid proliferation and differentiation of cells
during this time as well as the greater life expectancy that allows for more years for a cancer to
manifest. These concepts are recognized by the US EPA in their carcinogen guidance for risk

Exposure to noxious odors is in and of itself a hazard as is noted in the TASC document. There is a very
limited literature about non-occupational or childhood exposure to asphalt roofing fumes. This is not
surprising as these sorts of health effects studies in children are rare. One would expect that the risk
involved in a brief isolated exposure of this kind to be relatively small but in a large community
program including work over multiple years the hazard considerations would be appreciably different.
Whatever ill health effects one might expect would more than likely be disproportionately shouldered
by the children of the community. Since there are established, safer, and cost effective roofing
alternatives currently in common use, it seems unwise to continue with large scale asphalt project that
exposes the community to a long term exposure to these fumes.

Please let me know if I can be of some further assistance in this matter. I can be reached at (415)
206-4083 or toll free 1-866-827-3478.


Mark Miller MD, MPH
Director UCSF Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit

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