Safer Alternatives to Coal Tar Asphalt Sealants

Diagram of release of PAH's into the environment


Stormwater Management magazine has a great article on the impacts and challenges with coal tar-based sealants for asphalt parking lots. The article was authored by Tom Ennis, a former CDF colleague who is now with the City of Austin, but hails from the Chicago area.


Stormwater Management magazine cover imageAs described in the article, one of the primary ingredients in standard asphalt sealants is coal tar that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Although coal tar pitch provides a widely available sealant, it is a known human carcinogen. In addition, the material is readily washed from sealed pavements, and elevated PAH concentrations are often found in water bodies downstream from coal tar sealed lots where it causes harm to aquatic life. Although it takes some effort on the part of property managers and municipalities to identify contractors that use these alternatives, they are available.


At the CDF headquarters in Lombard, IL our long term plan is to repave the parking lot with interlocking permeable pavers that avoid the need for pavement sealers altogether while also reducing runoff. However, in the short term, we sought out and found with relatively little difficulty, a contractor to seal our parking lot with an alternative containing no coal tar pitch. Use of the alternative sealant only added about $0.04 per square foot of parking lot or $250 for our 5,700 square foot lot.


Click to read the entire article in Stormwater Management

Author: Tom Price, P.E.

Tags: non-coal tar sealant, asphalt parking lot, stormwater runoff,

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