What Can Universities Do?

What Can Universities Do?

 NEW! University of Illinois Springfield, Humber College and Reedemer University College in Ontario, and Lake Superior State University in Michigan Pledge to Not Using Coal Tar Sealcoats!

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.

Please commit to phasing out the use of this dangerous product on your campus. Let us know if your university is phasing out the use of coal tar sealcoats so we may mention it in our outreach! Please email Cheryl Kallio at cheryl@freshwaterfuture.org.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and U.S. Geological Survey have useful information and resources on the topic:

  1. Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoat, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and Environmental Health
  2. Find companies selling or applying safer sealcoat
  3. Make the pledge to reduce the use of coaltar seal-coats!

Check back here soon for additional information and resources.

Coal Tar Sealcoats • Communities Opting Out • News • Scientific Studies

Stay Informed

Connect With us


© 2022 Freshwater Future. All Rights Reserved.

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