Pitch Workers

  • James S. TaylorEmail author
  • Chuan Ma
  • Thomas F. DownhamII
Reference work entry


Coal tar pitch (CTP) exposure occurs in many manufacturing applications such as coke production, aluminum reduction, pipe coating, roofing and paving industries, and some of nonheated processes.

Pitch workers are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) emitted from CTP which cause pitch-related oculocutaneous diseases and skin cancer. Environmental factors (e.g., sunlight, humidity, and temperature) can aggravate such skin problems in workers.

Pitch-related oculocutaneous diseases include photosensitivity and tar erythema, pitch melanosis, folliculitis and acne, contact dermatitis, benign papillomas, premalignant pitch keratoses and acanthomas, and malignant skin lesions.

The carcinogenesis of CTP, especially PAHs, has been confirmed by laboratory experiments. Long-term exposure to CTP increases the prevalence of pitch-induced squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas. Early biopsy and diagnosis of premalignant and malignant skin lesions is important.

Prevention, such as engineering environmental controls, employee education, especially for sunlight protection and medical monitoring, will minimize or eliminate the oculocutaneous exposure to CTP and promote workers’ health.


Coal tar pitch (CTP) Pitch workers Polyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) Coke Aluminum Coal tar enamel Roofing and paving Oculocutaneous effects Conjunctivitis Carcinogenesis Photosensitivity Tar smarts Melanosis Folliculitis Acne Benign papillomas Premalignant pitch keratoses and acanthomas Skin cancer Squamous cell carcinoma Basal cell carcinoma Prevention Engineering controls Sunlight protection Medical monitoring 



We thank Mr. Sam Visnic, Morristown, NJ, for furnishing us with helpful technical data initially used in the first edition and which remains in the current edition.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Taylor
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Chuan Ma
    • 2
  • Thomas F. DownhamII
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Dermatology, Desk A-61, Dermatology-Plastic Surgery InstituteCleveland ClinicClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyPeking University Third HospitalBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of DermatologyHenry Ford Health SystemTaylorUSA
  4. 4.Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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