Coal Tar Bans in the Southeast and North Carolina. Coal tar is a thick, black liquid that is produced when coal is burned. It contains high levels of cancer-causing chemicals, including benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Coal tar is used in a variety of products, including roofing felt, pavement sealcoat, and pesticides.
In recent years, many states and municipalities across the country have enacted bans on the use of coal tar. While few states or municipalities in the southeast have banned coal tar, there is growing pressure to do so. Coal tar is particularly harmful to children, who are more likely to come into contact with it while playing on treated playground equipment or soil. Studies have shown that exposure to coal tar can increase the risk of cancer, skin problems and other health problems. Coal tar also gets into the local ecosystems such as waterways and wetlands where it kills fish and local wildlife. There is no safe level of exposure to coal tar and bans on its use are the best way to protect public health.
Many stores have banned the sale of coal tar-based sealant products, including Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, True Value Hardware and Menards. The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County recently banned any sealant that has greater than 0.1% PAHs, as has the city of Matthews, NC. Greenville, SC now has a ban on any use of coal tar within city limits. Meanwhile, the city of Boone, NC has coal tar-based sealcoat products listed as conditional restricted use. This means its use is prohibited near sensitive areas such as wetlands, watersheds and other fragile ecosystems.
There are a number of reasons why people may be opposed to coal tar bans. Some may believe that the benefits of using coal tar products outweigh the risks. Others may be concerned about the cost of switching to alternative products. Still others may not be aware of the health risks associated with coal tar. Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that coal tar is a harmful substance that poses serious health risks. Bans on its use are the best way to protect public health, particularly the health of children.
There are alternatives to coal tar sealcoat products. One such product is Pitch Black asphalt emulsion sealcoat. Pitch Black is 100% non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, has 0.00% PAHs and is safe for both people and the environment. If you want to demand safer, cleaner sealcoating, write to your local and state representatives. Insist they take action in banning coal tar-based products and sealcoats for safer, greener and cleaner communities.