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Surprising New Info on California Coal Tar Sealant Use

The La Brea Tar Pits aren't the only place with tar in California. Accompanying the discussions of a ban of coal tar sealants in C...

The La Brea Tar Pits aren't the only place with tar in California.
Accompanying the discussions of a ban of coal tar sealants in California, the next question is "how much is really used in the State?"  In a previous post, I gave the following data points of what we know:
  • In spite of studies showing the toxic and carcinogenic effects of coal tar sealants, contractors in California have continued to deceive the public by advertising this substance as "environmentally-friendly" and "non-toxic." Consumer Alert: Contractor Deception on the Rise

  Now here is the new information:

City of Santa Barbara Finds Coal Tar Use at 30%

The City of Santa Barbara wanted to test the theory of sealant use in California and found that 30% of 50 lots tested indicated that they were likely coal tar sealed.  An official City of Sanata Barbara report said:
Parking Lot Sealcoat: According to industry leaders, coal tar is not used in California in parking lot sealcoat.  This assumption was tested by conducting a field test on 50 parking lots throughout the City. Results suggest that approximately 30% of parking lots in the City may contain coal-based sealants.  (p. 52, City of Santa Barbara, Small MS4 General Permit Annual Report)
Walmart Store Bids Require Coal Tar Sealant in California Before 2009

Recently, we have become aware of the use of coal tar sealants on Walmart parking lots.  While this is illegal in a handful of jurisdictions, it is perfectly legal in the majority of the US.  Here is what is known from online specifications and bid forms:

  1. A “UniSpec II” form, dated 2009, calls for the use of coal tar sealants with special requirements for coal tar sealants in Alaska, California, Arizona and New Mexico.
  2. In 2012, a new universal spec calls exclusively for the use of non-coal tar sealants.
Given this information, any Walmart with a pavement sealant on it prior to 2009, may contain coal tar.  In the State of California alone, there are more than 200 stores and it is estimated this is about 33,000,000 square feet or a similar area to a 4 lane highway from LA to San Diego!

Walmart was asked to verify this information, but was unable to respond.

Coal Tar Sealants Are Made in California

We have located 4 separate manufacturing facilities within the boundaries of the State.

California Air Resources Board Approves Coal Tar Sealants for Use in 2007

This governmental body reviews the impact of products used in California for their potential air quality impacts.  In 2007, the Air Board reviewed and approved 4 coal tar emulsion products that are exclusively made as a pavement sealant.  The report is entitled, California Air Resources Board, Suggested Control Measure for Architectural Coatings, Draft Compliant Product Lists.

I have been involved in similar product reviews and one of the first ways to reduce a list is to ask if a product is even available in your jurisdiction.  If it isn't, then you leave it off your list.

So we know that in California coal tar sealant is toxic, made, advertised, approved, specified, used, preferred, and present. What more needs to be known?


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Coal Tar Free America: Surprising New Info on California Coal Tar Sealant Use
Surprising New Info on California Coal Tar Sealant Use
Coal Tar Free America
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