A proposal to phase out the use of coal tar on driveways and other paved surfaces has made it through the NY Senate and the Assembly. We need to ask NY Govenor Cuomo to sign this into law.
What is coal tar you might ask. It’s a mix of complex aromatic hydrocarbons including benzene, napthalene, creosote and other chemicals unfriendly to life and health. Many ingredients are known carcinogens. It’s a thick black liquid used to bind asphalt and as a driveway sealer.
And why is it in the Lake Ontario Log? A major component of coal tar chemistry is a group of molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These toxins are released as air borne particulates or are washed into adjacent bodies of water. Here they can and do enter the food chain and are then concentrated at higher trophic levels.
Some PAHs have caused mutations in lab settings in both invertebrates like clams and mussels and in fish. PAHs also acts as endocrine disrupters and lab and field studies have shown that exposed fish can suffer skeletal deformities, lesions, and hemorrhages. Fish eggs and larvae are especially sensitive as they have less ability to leave the contaminated area.
In humans exposure to coal tar has been linked to cancer of the skin, lung, bladder and kidney. It is especially problematic for children playing on blacktop surfaces that have been sealed with coal tar. An EPA study cited in USA Today news states the risk to children from inhaling coal tar particles is similar to that from exposure in the home to second hand cigarette smoke.
It’s safe to say this witches brew of organics should not be used on roads and driveways in close proximity to the water. There are less toxic alternatives for sealers and paving including asphalt a considerably less toxic material derived from naturally occurring mineral deposits or from refining crude oil. There is no need for coal tar to be used near water.
It should be phased out asap and nine states have banned it in at least some areas of the state. Maine, Minnesota and Washington have state wide bans on coal tar.
coaltarfreeusa.com has an excellent summary of this potent toxin and why it should be banned.
Tell the NY Gov to sign the Coal Tar Ban: S.4095-B (Sanders)/A.518-A (L. Rosenthal): Prohibits the sale and use of pavement products containing coal tar, a product that causes alarming contamination within our communities. Andrew M Cuomo, NYS Capital Building, Albany NY 12224 518 474 8390 email@example.com