Coal tar is a thick, black or brown liquid that is a byproduct of the carbonization of coal for the steel industry or the gasification of coal to make coal gas. This dangerous byproduct is then used in pavement sealcoat (also known as sealant), which is a black liquid sprayed or painted on some asphalt pavement. It is commonly used in parking lots for commercial businesses, apartment and condominium complexes, churches, schools, business parks, residential driveways, and even in playgrounds.
Widespread use of coal tar is a major cause for concern because scientists have identified coal tar-based pavement sealants as a significant source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination. PAHs are an environmental concern because they are toxic to aquatic life and because several are suspected human carcinogens. PAHs quickly get into the environment because vehicle tires break down parking lot sealcoat into small particles. These small particles are then washed into sewers or streams. They are also found in dust in homes and apartments.
Alternatives are easily available. Pavement options such as pervious concrete, permeable asphalt and paver systems do not require sealants. These types of pavements allow for storm-water to naturally infiltrate, resulting in decreased runoff.
This bill amends Article 37 of the Environmental Conservation Law in relation to prohibiting the sale and use of coal tar pavement products in New York State.