javascript:; Pick Your Poison; aka Driveway Sealer Scams | Coal Tar Free America

Linden, NJ --- Earlier this month an 85-year old woman was scammed by a door-to-to contractor offering her a "great deal" on sealing her driveway . She paid $7,000 for an incomplete job after a group of young men came to the house and appeared to use black spray paint instead of pavement sealer. A complete sealer job would likely be less than a $1,000.

This made me wonder: which is worse an illegal scam or a legal one? No one would condone overcharging the elderly for this work, but was she better off with the black paint instead of a coal tar pavement sealer?

The facts say "yes;" here's why.

From a cosmetic perspective, the black paint may look good for a little while, just like a coal tar sealer and it would provide some moisture resistance, and it won't have any of the following negative consequences.

From an environmental perspective, the air and water coming in contact will be cleaner if comparing black paint with a coal tar sealer.

From a human health perspective, the toxicity of dried black paint is only a problem if it contains lead, which was taken off the market years ago. On the other hand, coal tar pavement sealers are a potent source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. According to the EPA, PAHs are of environmental concern because several are toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, and/or teratogenic (causing birth defects) to aquatic life, and seven are probable human carcinogens.

From a real estate value perspective, the black paint will not have the lingering uncertainty that if hazardous waste cleanup standards were applied, then it might trigger an expensive cleanup. Coal tar sealer has caused site cleanups and soil removal when properties have been redeveloped. Ordinary black paint won't cause that to happen.

So which would you choose?

Yes there was a time when legitimate businesses were using coal tar sealers on asphalt pavement. No one knew (but should have suspected) the effects of coal tar sealers on humans and the environment.

Now we know differently.

Post a Comment

Anonymous said... August 31, 2015 at 9:40 PM

The "black paint" that they used and that you're referring to is most likely Gilsonite sealer. People like you helped to ban that all over the northeast back in 2005, citing (drum roll....)environmental and human health issues due to VOC's. It's very shiny and very black when applied, which is why it's often referred to as "paint" by the misinformed laymen. Ironically, I read countless articles back then about how coal tar was a wonderful, environmentally friendly alternative to Gilsonite sealer.

Coal tar sealer has been used since the 1930's. If a ban would really cut down on the cancer rate in this country, then I'm all for it. However, as a sealcoating contractor, I'm a little bit leery of accepting the notion of a coal tar ban because that will be the second of three available products that will have been banned thus far in my relatively short career. I started thus business in 1998 using Gilsonite sealer. After that was banned, I spent a considerable amount of money retrofitting my entire operation so that I was set up to spray emulsion sealers. This included the purchase of a new and completely different machine, and larger vehicles because emulsion sealers are much heavier and require much more product consumption vs. Gilsonite. So instead of operation out of 1/2 ton pickup trucks with little 80-100 gallon tanks in the bed, I must now tow a trailer with at least a 300 gallon tank with a one-ton truck in order to cover the same amount of square footage. I'm used to it now, but it wasn't fun when I initially had to make that switch. Furthermore, a national ban on coal tar would leave one product, asphalt emulsion, available for use. I like AE, I really do, but when all of the other products are knocked out, how long will it take for people like you to stop singing the praises of AE like you did CTE when you lobbied and fought to ban Gilsonite?

Coal Tar Free America said... September 1, 2015 at 11:57 AM

I hear what you're saying about the negative effects of a ban on a small business owner.

The only way out of this cycle is for sealer suppliers to do fundamental, environmental testing on their products before introducing them to applicators like yourself. If this would have been done for coal tar, it NEVER would have been used as a product for pavements especially after 1980.

Just because someone finds a cheap product left over from some industrial or refining operation, does not mean it is a good idea to use. I see the sealer industry getting ready to make this mistake all over again.

So who's fault is it if they do? The environmentalist who points out their lack of rigor or the company that blindly pushes a product?

I know of only one sealer product that has done that and that is GSB-88. It has a cradle to grave analysis of its environmental and human impact and toxicity.

So if you're going to switch products, my suggestion to you is find one which has been thoroughly testing both in wearability, but also in its environmental effects.

John Mclaughlin said... September 4, 2015 at 3:20 PM

It really is interesting to hear about all the different kind of things that are being done to ensure that those who are trying to get their driveways sealed are getting it done properly. That being said, there were some very valid points about whether tar sealers really are the best options overall. I personally think that being able to go back to the drawing board with that kind of material can really make a difference overall. Hopefully this isn't something that hurts the industry, but motivates it to hear what the concerns of the people are. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said... September 9, 2015 at 2:34 PM

I've been in and around this industry a long time you guys are looking at the small picture as in just the danger to the home owners due to fine particles and environmental issues due to run off. I think another big concern which you can see direct effects is the danger to the people making these products and the people applying it. I've seen burnt red skin, respiratory issues just from being close to it, not to mention when they get it on there skin , although I've noticed it effects everyone differently from little to nothing from going to the ER with welts. Most of the poor bastards make 9-10$ a hour and have no clue what there getting into.