The Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) has come out in support of State Representative Matthea "Mattie" Daughtry's bill to ban the sale and application of coal tar sealants there. Representative Daughtry introduced this legislation about a month ago. Currently there are coal tar sealant bills pending in 5 states (Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, and New York). While Indiana's bill is to examine the extent of the problem in that state, the balance are to ban the product from sale and use.
This is the second time in the nation that a chapter of the PSR has endorsed coal tar sealant legislation. The first time was in Texas for a regional ban in the Edwards Aquifer District (see Texas Doctors Support Coal Tar Sealant Restrictions). The Maine Chapter is part of a national organization with about 40,000 members. PSR Maine is the home of the Maine Children's Environmental Health Project, educating both physicians and parents about the threat that toxic chemicals pose to pediatric health.
As a first term representative, this legislation is one of Rep. Daughtry's first environmental bills. One of her goals is "standing strong on protecting Maine's precious environment...." The following support letter from the PSR Maine should help her do just that. A summary of why the group supports this effort is included.
The Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility supports the adoption of LD 1212 –which prohibits the sale of of coal tar pavement products in the state. As an environmental advocacy group consisting of doctors, nurses, and concerned citizens, we are primarily concerned with the impact that coal tar pavement products have on the health of our community.To learn more about the Physicians for Social Responsibility check out their website at: http://www.psr.org/chapters/maine/
Coal tar sealants contain a number of known and potential carcinogens, including benzene, naphthalene, and significant concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to the National Toxicology Program’s 12th Report on Carcinogens (June 2011), “Coal tars and coal-tar pitches are known to be human carcinogens based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in humans.” 
In addition to PAHs’ impact on human health, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) studies have shown that “aquatic invertebrates, the insects and other small animals that live in streams and lakes, are particularly susceptible to PAH contamination, especially the bottom dwellers (benthic invertebrates) that live in the mud where PAHs tend to accumulate.”  Coal tar sealants have been found to be the largest source of PAHs in 40 urban lakes scattered across the U.S. in a 2010 study performed by the USGS.  Furthermore, the USGS was able to pinpoint the source of the PHA contamination specifically to the use of coal tar sealants by utilizing “chemical fingerprinting.”  House dust contamination is also linked to proximity to parking lots and driveways covered with sealants —putting children at higher risk of exposure.
Fortunately, alternative products made from asphalt have similar protective characteristics and competitive prices – without the runoff of carcinogens associated with coal tars.
Though the issue of driveway sealants seems small on the surface, just think about how much of our urban environment is paved. Maine PSR praises Rep. Daughtry for raising our awareness of this preventable environmental hazard.
1. National Toxicology Program. 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). Jun. 10, 2011 http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/twelfth/profiles/CoalTars.pdf#search=coal%20tar2. United States Geological Survey, PAHs and Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoat. Last modified Nov. 5, 2012. http://tx.usgs.gov/coring/allthingssealcoat.html3. United States Geological Survey. Science of the Total Environment 409 (2010) 334–344. Contribution of PAHs from coal–tar pavement sealcoat and other sources to 40 U.S.Lakes. http://tx.usgs.gov/coring/pubs/Van%20Metre%20PAH%20sources%20STOTEN2010.pdf4. United States Geological Survey. Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoat, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and Environmental Health. Feb. 2011. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3010/pdf/fs2011-3010.pdf5. Journal of Environmental Pollution. Volume 164, May 2012, Pages 40–41. Coal-tar pavement sealants might substantially increase children's PAH exposures. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749112000279