Real Movement to Restrict Toxic Driveway Sealants

Real Movement to Restrict Toxic Driveway Sealants

For the first time ever, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking measures to restrict the use of coal tar sealcoats. Coal tar sealcoats, which are widely used on driveways and parking lots, contain a host of potential and confirmed carcinogens. They are a threat to our health as well as dangerous for local waterways, fish and wildlife.

fwf_dec2016proof_page_4_image_0005The EPA’s measures were a result of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental organizations,
led by Waterkeeper Alliance. Starting in 2019. Industrial facilities such as federally regulated airports, factories, refineries and many other industrial sites, will either have to eliminate a discharge of the toxic chemical that runs off coal tar sealcoats (an option would be to resurface with a safer sealant) to be covered under the agency’s industrial stormwater multi-sector general permit (MSGP) or apply for an individual permit.

There are easy alternatives available to coal tar sealcoats that don’t have these harmful side effects. Two years ago, Freshwater Future launched a campaign to raise awareness of these toxic products and restrict or even ban their use. In partnership with our network of community groups around the Lakes and with funding from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, we were successful in reducing the use of coal tar sealcoats around the Great Lakes.

According to the Waterkeeper Alliance, the settlement agreement includes:
• EPA will propose that industrial facilities that use coal tar based pavement sealants, which discharge
very hihgh quantities of PHAs (A persistent bioaccumulative toxin), will be ineligible for coverage
under the MSGP.
To learn more, check out the Waterkeeper Alliance news,

*EPA’s MSGP (Multi-Sector General Permit) is utilized in states that do not have primacy for this permitting program.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.