Ending the use of high-PAH pavement sealants
Coal-tar based pavement sealants are the primary source of toxic PAH pollution in urban landscapes. Those PAHs are harmful to human health, and hurt fish and other aquatic life in our lakes and rivers. Clean Wisconsin is a leading voice on this issue, and will continue to encourage municipalities and the state to find solutions to this challenge.
What are pavement sealants?
What's the problem with tar-based pavement sealants?
How are people exposed to PAHs from tar-based sealants?
How significant is the health risk?
What are the environmental impacts of PAHs?
times higher lifetime cancer risk for children from birth to age 6 living near parking lots with high-PAH sealants
What are the economic impacts of PAHs?
Are there alternatives?
How do tar-based sealants compare to other PAH sources?
Other sources of environmental PAH pollution have significantly lower concentrations than tar-based sealants. Fresh asphalt, for example is about 1.5 parts per million (ppm) PAHs. Smoke from wood fires can range from 2 to 114 ppm, engine exhaust 102-370 ppm, and used motor oil around 440 ppm. Tar-based sealants are hundreds to thousands of times worse, at 70,000 – 100,000 ppm.
Where have tar-based sealants been banned in Wisconsin so far?
22 communities and one county in Wisconsin have banned tar-based sealants: Bayside, Brown Deer, Dane County, Elm Grove, Franklin, Glendale, Green Bay, Greendale, Hales Corners, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Plymouth, Port Washington, Racine, Sheboygan, Shorewood, St. Francis, Sturgeon Bay, Wauwatosa, West Allis, and Whitefish Bay.
Where have tar-based sealants been banned elsewhere in the U.S.?
How to be PAH-safe:
Don’t use tar-based pavement sealants
If you feel you must seal your driveway or parking lot, then use asphalt-based sealants, which have 1,000-times lower PAH levels.
Remove your shoes
If you don’t have control over your parking lot or driveway, try to keep sealant dust and soil out of your house by taking off shoes before entering your home or apartment.
Look for hidden PAHs
Tar can have a lot of different names, and some other byproducts can have very high levels of PAHs. To be safe, check the “Material Safety Data Sheet” of the product (try searching online) and avoid anything including CAS #’s 64742-90-1, 65996-92-1, 65996-93-2, 65996-89-6, 69013-21-4, or 8007-45-2.
Become an advocate in your community against the use of tar-based pavement sealants.