Coal-tar sealcoats are sprayed or brushed on asphalt parking lots, driveways, and roads every several years to improve their appearance, protect against weather and wear and extend their life. Studies have shown that as much as 50%-75% of PAH contamination found in the sediment throughout the Great Lakes region comes directly from coal-tar sealcoats.
While awareness of the danger of coal tar sealcoats in the Great Lakes is relatively new, efforts to ban or reduce the use of them have been growing across the United States since 2005. Austin, Texas became the first U.S. city to ban the sale and use of coal tar sealcoats. Since then, more cities have enacted bans, as well as counties across the country. States followed in 2011 with Washington and now Minnesota just this past January. Additionally, governmental agencies have stopped their use of the product, several universities have banned its use on their campuses, many suppliers and retailers have voluntarily dropped the product from their inventory, and a few contractors are committing to using asphalt sealcoats.
Freshwater Future is looking for groups around the Great Lakes region to partner with us on efforts to educate and make requests to reduce or stop the use of this product. We will be approaching municipalities, contractors, universities and stores to inform them about the dangers of coal tar sealcoats and ask that they phase out or ban the use of them, switching to safer, alternative products.
Our efforts will be stronger and more effective if you are willing to sign on to a letter making this request with us. We also have small amounts of funding to assist groups who can help us deliver these requests in their community. Please contact Cheryl Kallio (Cheryl@freshwaterfuture.org) for more information on signing on to the letter and other ways you can get your group involved in the effort.