Agent Name

Coal tar pitch volatiles

CAS Number


Major Category

Other Classes


Volatiles contain a large amount of low-molecular-weight polcyclic hydrocarbons. [ACGIH]


Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons


Black or dark-brown amorphous residue; [NIOSH]


Coal tar, coal tar pitch, and creosote are considered to be coal tar products. [NIOSH] Wood creosote (8021-39-4) is derived from the distillation of beechwood tar; it is yellow, transparent, and chemically distinct from coal tar creosote. Coal tar products are used to treat dandruff and psoriasis. Exposure to coal tar volatiles also occurs in chimney cleaning and working in iron foundries and steel plants. Creosote can accumulate in fish and shellfish enough to prompt consumption advisories. [ATSDR ToxProfiles] Industries in which workers may be exposed to coal tar pitch volatiles include "coking, roofing, road paving, aluminum smelting, wood preserving and any others where coal tar is used." [OSHA Technical Links]


Photoirritant contact dermatitis from creosote; [Marks, p. 203] Corrosive to skin; [Quick CPC] Workers complain of burning of the skin starting about one hour after exposure to pitch and sunlight. Erythema and blistering may ensue. Preventive measures include wearing long-sleeve shirts, gloves, and sunscreens. "Tar smarts" is caused by coal tar pitch derived from coal, not by asphalt derived from petroleum. [Kanerva, p. 1685] In high-dose animal studies, benzo(a)pyrene causes testicular and ovarian damage, reducing fertility. [Frazier] "There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of coal-tar pitch as encountered in paving and roofing. Coal-tar pitch as encountered in paving and roofing causes cancer of the lung." [IARC 2012: Coal-tar pitch] Coal tar creosote (8001-58-9) and Coal tar (8007-45-2) are covered separately. See "Coal-tar distillation." See "Aluminum production."


In January 1986, EPA restricted use of coal tar creosotes to certified applicators for wood preservation; [ATSDR ToxProfiles] Between 1965 and 1995, coal tar in asphalt paving was discontinued in several European countries. [Reference #2]

Reference Link

OSHA Technical Links: Coal Tar Pitch Volatiles

Exposure Assessment
Skin Designation (ACGIH)

Insufficient data


0.2 mg/m3, as benzene soluble aerosol


0.2 mg/m3, as benzene soluble aerosol


80 mg/m3

Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs

Other animal data: The major health effects resulting from longterm repeated exposure to coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPV) are cancer of the lung, kidney, and skin [Redmond et al. 1972]; however, no studies have been made on carcinogenic effects by any route from single shortterm exposure to CTPV that could relate to a 30minute IDLH. Therefore, reliance must be placed on comparative data of single versus repeated carcinogenic doses of benzo(a)pyrene [B(a)P], a known component of CTPV. It has been reported that B(a)P applied in a single dose of 2 mg to the skin of mice yielded tumors in 10% to 20% of the animals whereas 0.01 mg B(a)P applied in a noncarcinogenic solvent applied to the skin 3 times/week for 50 weeks yielded tumors in 50% of the animals [Bingham 1971]. Thus, a single dose producing about 1/3 the number of tumors was 200 times the repeated 3 times/week dose. Using this factor and the value of 0.6 mg/m3 CTPV reported as safe for coke oven workers [Mazumdar et al. 1975], a total dose IDLH of 120 mg CTPV (as benzene solubles) is calculated; by using 50 liters as the minute volume of workers and 100% lung retention of CTPV, a 30minute IDLH is calculated to be about 80 mg/m3 (as benzene solubles).

Explanatory Notes

The Guide from the Emergency Response Guidebook is for "acridine." Flash point = 207 deg C;

Half Life

No reports found for creosote; [TDR, p. 407]

Reference Link

IARC 2012: Coal-Tar Pitch

Adverse Effects
Reproductive Toxin



Contact Dermatitis, Photoirritant

IARC Carcinogen

Known Carcinogen

NTP Carcinogen

Human Carcinogen

ACGIH Carcinogen

Confirmed Human

Links to Other NLM Databases
Health Studies

Human Health Effects from Hazardous Substances Data Bank:

Toxicity Information


Chemical Information

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Related Information in HazMap

Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent:


Industrial Processes with risk of exposure:


Activities with risk of exposure: