Did you know coal tar sealant can harm  aquatic life near you?

According to Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) coal tar based sealcoat, the black sealant on top of driveways and asphalt, has been identified as a major source for carcinogens and is toxic to aquatic life.

On Wednesday, October 14, 2015 The Barrington Area of Council Governments (BACOG) will be hosting Dr. Barbara J. Mahler to speak on the topic of tar sealants. Dr. Mahler has researched and authored many articles about coal tar.

Picture courtesy of Reis Asphalt

Picture courtesy of Reis Asphalt

She will discuss the body of research on coal tar and PAHs and their consequences on human and environmental health. Her findings are backed by the U.S. EPA and reveal why levels of toxicity found in driveways and parking lots contribute to water pollution.

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According to the EPA:

  • Coal-tar sealcoat typically contains 20 to 35 percent coal tar pitch, a byproduct of the steel manufacturing industry
  • The amount of PAHs in stormwater runoff was 65 times higher from parking lots sealed with coal-tar sealant vs. stormwater from unsealed parking lots
  • The runoff water flows into drains and consequently ends up in lakes, ponds and streams
  • The District of Columbia banned the sale and useof coal-tar sealcoat in 2009
  • Washington State banned the sale of coal-tar pavement sealants on January 1, 2012

Alternative solutions to coal-tar sealcoat are possible. The EPA suggests pavement options such as pervious concrete, permeable asphalt and paver systems. Each of those do not require sealants and allow stormwater to absorb water and decrease runoff.

In the past industry lobbyists and some local businesses have  disputed USGS studies. They argue that  PAHs are present in multiple substances, so why ban just one?  Others believe that if coal tar products were , the federal government would ban them nationwide.

The presentation is being co-sponsored by BACOG and Citizens for Conservation. Please join BACOG and CFC for this presentation on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Barrington Village Hall, 2nd Floor.

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