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Coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat and PAHs: implications for the environment, human health, and stormwater management

Environmental Science and Technology

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Abstract

Coal-tar-based sealcoat products, widely used in the central and eastern U.S. on parking lots, driveways, and even playgrounds, are typically 20-35% coal-tar pitch, a known human carcinogen that contains about 200 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds. Research continues to identify environmental compartments—including stormwater runoff, lake sediment, soil, house dust, and most recently, air—contaminated by PAHs from coal-tar-based sealcoat and to demonstrate potential risks to biological communities and human health. In many cases, the levels of contamination associated with sealed pavement are striking relative to levels near unsealed pavement: PAH concentrations in air over pavement with freshly applied coal-tar-based sealcoat, for example, were hundreds to thousands of times higher than those in air over unsealed pavement. Even a small amount of sealcoated pavement can be the dominant source of PAHs to sediment in stormwater-retention ponds; proper disposal of such PAH-contaminated sediment can be extremely costly. Several local governments, the District of Columbia, and the State of Washington have banned use of these products, and several national and regional hardware and home-improvement retailers have voluntarily ceased selling them.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat and PAHs: implications for the environment, human health, and stormwater management
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
Volume
46
Issue:
6
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
ACS Publications
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Texas Water Science Center
Description:
7 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Science and Technology
First page:
3039
Last page:
3045
Country:
United States
Other Geospatial:
Austin;Texas