Howard County Council Considers Ban on Coal Tar Sealants on Roads, Driveways

Baltimore Sun article (2018-09-07) reported that the Howard County Council is considering banning the use of coal tar sealants on roadways and driveways. The proposal has drawn opposition from sealant manufacturers and trade groups.

According to the article, coal tar sealants are used to protect asphalt roads and driveways. However, the sealant, which can contain up to 35 percent of carcinogenic coal tar pitch, breaks down over time into a dust that contaminate stormwater, water bodies, and house dust. Several cancers, including skin, bladder, lung, kidney and digestive tract cancers, have been linked to occupational exposure to coal tar according to the National Institutes of Health. The article also noted that coal tar is used medicinally to treat certain skin disorders. The sealant must be reapplied to a road surface every 2-5 years in order to remain effective.

From the article:

Councilman Jon Weinstein introduced legislation to ban coal-tar at a County Council meeting Tuesday night after a group of Centennial Lane Elementary fifth-graders presented their case for a ban to Weinstein, who represents Ellicott City where the school is located, in June.

“These sorts of bans [on coal-tar sealcoat] are solutions to problems that don’t exist,” said Anne LeHuary, executive director of the Pavement Coatings Technology Council. “I would challenge the [Howard] county to look at their data.”

The article noted that coal tar sealant is already banned in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and the District of Columbia. The Howard County Department of Public Works does not use sealant on county-maintained roads.

A hearing on the legislation (CB60-2018) is set for September 17.

Useful Links

CB60-2018 Information