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"Friendly" Village, Downers Grove, Now More Eco-Friendly

Forbes listed Downers Grove, IL as one of our nation's friendliest communities, but the Village of nearly 50,000 in the western subur...

Forbes listed Downers Grove, IL as one of our nation's friendliest communities, but the Village of nearly 50,000 in the western suburbs of Chicago is no longer friendly toward coal tar sealer pollution. Tuesday night the Village Council voted to join 13 other local agencies of the DuPage River /Salt Creek Workgroup (DRSCW) to cease the use of the product at a municipal level. Technically the Village voted to authorize a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DRSCW to no longer use coal tar sealcoat or what some call "refined tar" sealers on Village paving projects.

While the amount of coal tar sealer used by most municipalities represents less than 10% of the overall community use, the action signifies not just an agreement with the problem, but also the solution. The Downers Grove Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining approximately 850,000 square feet of parking surfaces in the Village. For the past two years, Public Works has used asphalt emulsion-based sealants instead of coal tar based sealants and has found them to be comparable with respect to the resulting product and cost.  Nan Newton, who is the Village's Public Works Director, said that they are confident that alternative products being recommended are effective.

The action of the communities is a direct result of the coordination of the DRSCW.

"The DRSCW is very pleased that another member has taken steps to limit the quantities of Refined Coal Tar Based sealants used in our watersheds. Reducing and eliminating PAH loadings via switching pavement sealants is arguably the most cost effective non-point source management tool available to storm water communities," said Stephen McCracken of the DRSCW.

DRSCWTheir research has documented the effects of coal tar sealer pollution on area streams, leading to them be referred to as some of the most toxic streams in the United States concerning the primary group of chemicals found in coal tar sealers, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. More on that can be found at this related story, Chicagoland: Home of the Most Toxic Creeks in the US?

Keep in mind this is just a beginning. Until the use of this product ends here and all remnants of its use eliminated, the risk remains for the residents and the environment.

* List of DRSCW Members Pledged to Cease Government Use of Coal Tar Sealers

Village of Addison
Village of Carol Stream
The County of DuPage
The Conservation Foundation
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
Glenbard Wastewater Authority
The Village of Lombard
Wheaton Sanitary District
The City of Elmhurst
The City of Naperville
The Village of Bloomingdale
Downers Grove Sanitary District
Village of Woodridge

Members of DRSCW Who Have NOT Pledged:

Village of Arlington Heights
Village of Bartlett
Village of Bensenville
Village of Bolingbrook
Village of Clarendon Hills
DuPage County Health Department
Village of Glen Ellyn
Village of Glendale Heights
Village of Hanover Park
Village of Hinsdale
Village of Hoffman Estates
Illinois Tollway
Village of Itasca
Village of Lisle
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
Naperville Park District
City of Northlake
City of Oakbrook Terrace
Village of Roselle
Salt Creek Sanitary District
Village of Schaumburg
Village of Villa Park
City of West Chicago
City of Warrenville
Village of Westmont
City of Wheaton
Village of Winfield
City of Wood Dale
Village of Woodridge
York Township Highway Department

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Coal Tar Free America: "Friendly" Village, Downers Grove, Now More Eco-Friendly
"Friendly" Village, Downers Grove, Now More Eco-Friendly
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