Tar fumes worry students1 min read


Nathan Mitchell


The tar kettle rests, Friday, May 17, 2013. Construction workers should finish tarring the roof in may, according to De Anza’s Measure C website.

Ruben Valles, Staff Writer

Clouds of acrid, resinous odor spread from the loading dock of De Anza College’s Advanced Technology Center. Its source: a tar kettle, industriously churning coal tar pitch onto the building’s roof.

As the smell of tar travels throughout the L Quad Students complain about the fumes and worry about possible health problems.

“The health [issue] and the smell concern me,” said Dolores Rosas, 20, anthropology major. “I feel it is bothering a lot of students.”

“I think they should work at night because less people are at school at that time,” said Lorraine Weaver, 19, video game design major. “Compared to during the day, there are visitors like children, and this tar can be harmful to them.”

Subcontractor John Promer, 48, who lays roofing tiles on the ATC, said he has worked around tar for 30 years and has not had a single health problem.

“The most important thing is working on that roof, sealing it so it does not leak is priority,” he said.

Using the tar to fill in the cracks and crevices can be next to impossible while working at night, Promer said. Working in the daylight makes the job a lot easier.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that animal studies linked long-term exposure to tar fumes to cancer.

But the institute cited no studies on short-term exposure or effects on human health.

Workers will finish the tarring phase of the ATC renovations in May, according to De Anza’s Measure C website.