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CliffsNotes Version of USGS Research Now Available

 Illustration from New USGS Publication Over the last few years, the research into the problem of coal tar sealants has covered a vari...


Illustration from New USGS Publication
Over the last few years, the research into the problem of coal tar sealants has covered a variety of specific areas including the wash off, wear off, parking lot dust, household dust, biological effects and lake cores.  All of these studies have increased our understanding of the sealants and the challenge they present in the environment.  Until now it has been a little tough for the less scientific among us to track all of these studies.

Now a new publication summarizes much of the work done to date by the USGS and others in an easy to read format with a lot less technical jargon. This document would be great for anyone wanting to go into more detail about the subject without wading too deeply into the science and statistics of a technical journal article.

Here are some key ideas from the document:

• Dust from pavement with coal-tar-based sealcoat has greatly elevated PAH concentrations compared to dust from unsealed pavement.
• Coal-tar-based sealcoat is the largest source of PAH contamination to 40 urban lakes studied, accounting for one-half of all PAH inputs.
• Coal-tar-based sealcoat use is the primary cause of upward trends in PAHs, since the 1960s, in urban lake sediment.
• Residences adjacent to parking lots with coal-tar-based sealcoat have PAH concentrations in house dust that are 25 times higher than those in house dust in residences adjacent to parking lots without coal-tar-based sealcoat.

• PAHs move from a sealcoated surface into our environment by many mechanisms: storm runoff, adhesion to tires, wind, foot traffic, and volatilization.

And some take away factoids:

Coal-tar pitch is 50 percent or more PAHs by weight and is known to cause cancer in humans (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1980). 
Coal-tar-based sealcoat products typically are 20 to 35 percent coal-tar pitch. 
Product analyses indicate that coal-tar-based sealcoat products contain about 1,000 times more PAHs than sealcoat products with an asphalt base (City of Austin, 2005)
PAH concentrations in the coal-tar-based sealcoat product are about 1,000 times higher than in the asphalt-based product (more than 50,000 milligrams per kilogram [mg/kg] in coal-tar-based products and 50 mg/kg in asphalt-based products.
Concentrations of PAHs in dust swept from sealed parking lots in central and eastern U.S. cities, where coal-tar-based-sealcoat use dominates, were about 1,000 times higher than in western U.S. cities.


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Coal Tar Free America: CliffsNotes Version of USGS Research Now Available
CliffsNotes Version of USGS Research Now Available
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Coal Tar Free America
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