On January 18, 2022, The Press Herald published an article entitled, “Yarmouth Enacts Local Ban on Sealant Containing Coal Tar,” written by Rachel Vitello.
Yarmouth has become the first municipality in Maine to ban the sale and use of coal tar sealant, which one conservation district commissioner likens to “toxic black paint.”
The Town Council approved the ban passed Dec. 16 ahead of a state measure going into effect Oct. 1, 2024. Yarmouth is the only municipality in Maine to pass the prohibition.
“The town felt that we wanted to be a little more aggressive in our enforcement of this new rule,” Town Engineer Steven Johnson said. “So we opted to do a local ban on the material sooner than that.”
“A black liquid sealant that is sprayed or painted onto pavement to improve its appearance, coal tar contains more than 200 types of a harmful chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. Several of those hydrocarbons are human carcinogens and are harmful to waterways and aquatic life, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Friction from car tires can cause the seal coat to come off in small particles, which are then washed off by rain and carried down storm drains and into bodies of water. The particles can stick to tires, soles of shoes and feet and be carried elsewhere, where they can also be inhaled, the Geological Survey says.”