Environmental Health and Radiation Safety

Indoor Environmental Quality

General Indoor Environmental Quality

If you have a general indoor environmental quality concern, please complete the Indoor Environmental Quality Survey

A representative from Environmental Health and Radiation Safety will contact you to discuss your concerns.

Roofing Projects

For information regarding the University Hall Roofing & Restoration project, please go to the Campus Construction website.

Health Concerns

Re-roofing of University Buildings is a necessary part of building preservation. During the project, roof tar odors are generated. The following information addresses some of the common complaints associated with roofing projects, and some methods for reducing problems.

I smell roof tar odors. Does this mean I am being over exposed to a chemical?

No. The sulfur compounds in roofing tar have very low odor thresholds (in the parts per billion range). Smelling the odors does not indicate an over exposure.

I smell roofing tar; my head aches; and I am feeling nauseated. Is this a short term problem or can it result in chronic health problems?

These can be short term or acute effects of exposure to roof tar odors. The symptoms should resolve within hours after exposure to the odor has stopped. Long term health consequences are not expected for the levels found inside buildings during roofing projects.

Can hot roof tar produce hydrogen sulfide? Will it be at levels high enough to affect building occupants?

Yes, hydrogen sulfide can be produced from hot roof tar. The levels produced will not be high enough to affect building occupants. Only levels inside an enclosed asphalt kettle may be high enough to pose a serious health threat.

Methods to reduce odors during roofing projects

Building occupants

If your building has operable windows, do not open them. The odors will enter the building.

Promptly report roof leaks during construction to the project manager.

Facilities Management

Facilities Maintenance will work in conjuction with Environmental Health and Radiation to establish controls to minimize odors from the project entering the building. 

Placement of the asphalt kettle is important.  The kettle will be placed as far away from the air intake as possible and certain air intakes may be closed to the greatest extent possible to reduce the amount of odor drawn into the building.  Trucks may also be running during the project.  Idling near the air intakes will not be permitted to reduce exhaust from entering the building ventilation system.  Additional controls, including the potential use of charcoal filters on the air handling system.

Promptly report roof leaks to Facilities at x1000 on the Main Campus and x5353 on the Health Science Campus for a water damage assessment.

HealthCare Operations

Re-roofing of health care facilities is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy environment.  These operations must be done while the hospital is occupied as we are a 24 hour operation.  Facilities Maintenance and Environmental Health and Radiation Safety will work together to identifiy control measures to reduce odors associated with the roofing project through engineering and administrative controls, however, there may still be some odors present.

What do I tell patients, visitors and families about the odor?

UTMC is committed to providing the highest quality environment for our patients, visitors, and families.  During the project, odors from tar will be generated.   The sulfur compounds in roofing tar have very low odor thresholds. Smelling the odors does not indicate an over exposure.  However, individual suceptibility varies.  UTMC will working with Facilities Maintenance and Environmental Health and Radiation Safety to control the odors.  Please encourage all patients, visitors, and families not to open windows during installation of the roofing materials.  Contact Environmental Health and Radiation Safety at 419-530-3600 and Facilities Services at 419-383-5353 if you have any concerns or questions.








Last Updated: 6/27/22