I was speaking with Dan Chiles from Springfield, Missouri; former Mayor Pro Tem, cancer-survivor, and long-time advocate of coal tar restrictions. We were looking at some aerial photos of parking lots in his hometown.
It dawned on me that in much of the United States coal tar sealants are with you from the day you're born until the day you die. And Springfield, Missouri is a classic example of how this material is in every aspect of our lives.
How do I know that it's most likely coal tar sealer? Local industry officials have testified that over 90% of the market in Springfield is coal tar sealants. When I was there in 2010, I tested some parking lots and found them all to have coal tar. And with a little practice you can see on an aerial what has been sealed and what hasn't. One can easily assume, in this town and many others throughout the US, when you encounter an asphalt parking lot surface it will have a toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic coating on the surface.
The cancer risk assessments done by a Baylor toxicologist didn't contemplate exposure at every turn of one's life. Still, he said that it's likely that many Americans have cancer from this source and they don't even know it.
So I want to put that theory to a test. In Springfield, Missouri how much of your life is exposed coal tar sealers? All phases? Are there any places in Springfield that don't have coal tar sealer on them?
With very little effort, I found that most places in Springfield have been sealed. Yes all phases of life are coal tar sealed in Springfield. It is an inescapable fact of life. Rare exceptions included concrete drives at homes, concrete at a home improvement store and a grocery store. And at least the City of Springfield has committed to stop using coal tar sealers on city-owned parking lots.
Below is a presentation of those findings. Coal tar is found at 21 randomly selected locations in Springfield where life happens.
I didn't have to look that hard. Usually a sealed surface was found at the first site of its kind. A few were not random. They are institutions who have publicly stated they will continue to use coal tar sealers. Those are included in this summary.
Would any reasonable person think this is a good idea?