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Editorial: Only Safe Solution is to Ban Coal Tar Sealants

from the October 20, 2015 Springfield-News Leader (Springfield, Missouri): Recently the News-Leader editors (“ City should put hold on u...

from the October 20, 2015 Springfield-News Leader (Springfield, Missouri):

Recently the News-Leader editors (“City should put hold on use of coal tar asphalt sealants until safety determined,” Sept. 12) encouraged the City of Springfield to adopt a moratorium of the referenced product. They called for the city to commission “whatever studies or steps are needed to resolve the question of whether coal tar sealants are safe for this community.”

What would it take to prove that they are safe for the people of Springfield? The first hurdle would be the mountains of data demonstrating that coal tar pavement sealcoats are unsafe in the air, our streams, and in our homes. That isn’t just a single study; it is three separate, complex studies. Also someone would need to show that a product, which is at unsafe levels in Springfield, Missouri, was somehow OK. 

High levels of the chemicals associated with coal tar sealers, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are a human and environmental health concern all over the world. It isn’t hard to find studies from China to India to Poland to the U.S. all focused on the negative consequences of PAHs.

When this discussion began in Springfield in 2010, industry representatives made two major claims:

1. There is no data to support PAH pollution in Springfield. 
2. Any pollution could be addressed by stormwater treatment. 

The first claim was debunked by the Missouri State University study showing high levels in Springfield. The second was handily dismissed when the City of Springfield estimated the cleanup of Springfield’s ponds could be more than $100 million if contaminated by coal tar sealers. 

Proving that coal tar sealers are safe would be the equivalent of the City of Springfield attempting to prove that gravity does not exist. Pollution from coal tar pavement sealers is a fact we must address in one way: banning it.

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Coal Tar Free America: Editorial: Only Safe Solution is to Ban Coal Tar Sealants
Editorial: Only Safe Solution is to Ban Coal Tar Sealants
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Coal Tar Free America
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