Researchers have recently discovered that a commonly used sealant found on our parking lots, driveways and sidewalks is actually a harmful carcinogen. What’s even worse is that we pick up little particles of it on our shoes when we walk across these surfaces and track it into our homes! There are no known studies yet on the health effects, but there’s no sense in waiting. It’s time to ban this dangerous carcinogen from our lives.
Parking lots and driveways east of the Continental Divide are typically coated with a coal-tar based sealant, and in the west, they usually use an asphalt based sealant. Turns out the coal-tar sealant contains 1000 times more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are by-products of fuel burning, than its asphalt-based counterpart. Researchers in Austin have found that the level of PAHs can be 25 percent higher in homes adjacent to parking lots with coal-tar sealant, which is a huge concern for those of you with children crawling around on the floor.
Researchers have been studying the problem for five years now and are working to get the EPA to ban the harmful sealant, but a nationwide ban will still take some time. But so far, Austin, Washington, D.C., and Dane County, Wisconsin have banned the sealant and Minnesota has banned its use by state agencies. More environmentally friendly options are limitedly available and are considerably more expensive, but in reality, it may not even be necessary to seal pavement at all.