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Prohibiting the Use of Coal Tar Sealants

November 13, 2012

Prohibiting the Use of Coal Tar Sealants: A Water Quality and Public Health Victory

**UPDATE** The Edwards Aquifer Authority has recently published an information webpage (including a map of the areas covered by the prohibition) on the EAA website. **

On November 13, 2012, the Edwards Aquifer Authority made a decision to protect the most sensitive areas within its jurisdiction from potential contamination by Coal Tar Sealants. Coal Tar Sealants are commonly applied to beautify and protect paved surfaces. However, the product breaks down with wear and time and can contaminate watercourses and nearby structures with several know pollutants.

According to the National Toxicology Program’s 12th Report on Carcinogens (June 2011), Coal tars and coal-tar pitches are known to be human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity due to the high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In addition to containing hazardous PAHs, coal tar sealants are composed of a number of known and potential carcinogens, including benzene, naphthalene.

The City of Austin discovered the link between Coal Tar Sealants and PAH’s while monitoring Barton Creek and banned the sale and use of Coal Tar Sealants within the City and its ETJ in 2005. Today several municipalities and one State (Washington) have banned the use of this dangerous and unnecessary product.

Protection of the Edwards Aquifer is an important aspect of the mission of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. Therefore, during the process of adopting new rules, advocates proposed pollution prevention rules to “prohibit the use of coal tar pavement products within the entire jurisdictional boundary of the Edwards Aquifer Authority.” Although, a much less inclusive prohibition was approved, critical areas for endangered species have been protected and the Edwards Aquifer Authority has set a water quality precedent by acknowledging the effects that Coal Tar Sealant products can have on endangered species and the public’s health.

Austin PSR, Tom Ennis, Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance all played a role in advocating for the prohibition. However, Austin PSR would like to personally thank Edwards Aquifer Board Member, Pat Stroka (Hays County – District 10) for his leadership in this issue and for putting water quality, and public health above politics and special interest. In addition, Austin PSR would like to thank Tom Ennis for bringing this matter to our attention and for his steadfast resolve to raise awareness about the potential danger of CTS.

For more information:

Austin PSR Letter to the EAA

The EAA Rules

The Subchapter that prohibits the use of Coal Tar Sealants

Tom Ennis’ blog

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