Contact: Pam McCurdy, 651-757-2559
St. Paul, Minn. ― Coal tar residues that can contaminate stormwater ponds are becoming a thing of the past thanks to voluntary phase-outs by Minnesota business leaders like Eagan-based Jet-Black International. Jet-Black is receiving recognition from Governor Dayton for its pollution-prevention efforts.
Voluntary phase-outs of coal tar-based sealers in Minnesota began more than a decade ago when major retailers started taking them off the shelf. The MPCA is encouraging retailers, commercial applicators, and product suppliers to continue pollution prevention efforts by phasing out coal tar-based sealers in favor of asphalt-based sealers, which contain much lower levels of chemicals of concern.
“Jet-Black is a wonderful example of how Minnesota business leaders are helping with pollution prevention,” MPCA Commissioner John Stine said. “When business leaders embrace science-based recommendations and take action voluntarily, everyone benefits. Coal tar-based sealants are a major source of contamination in stormwater pond sediments, with potentially harmful impacts to the environment, human health, and especially the budgets of cities that are responsible for maintaining these ponds. Their leadership is helping to reduce negative impacts, and it’s important to recognize their contribution in a formal way.”
Recent research showed that chemicals in coal tar-based sealants called “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” (PAHs) accumulate in the sediments of stormwater ponds. In 2009, the Legislature required Minnesota state agencies to stop using coal tar formulations. Since then, the MPCA has been working with cities, retailers and commercial applicators to encourage a switch to asphalt-based sealants, which contain much lower levels of PAHs than do coal tar formulations.
PAHs can be harmful to human health at sufficient concentrations, and some are classified as carcinogenic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Research by the U.S. Geological Survey, the MPCA and other agencies has found that chemicals wash off pavement treated with coal-tar sealants, and then accumulate in the sediments of stormwater ponds and wetlands.
Jet-Black provides both coal tar- and asphalt-based sealants, but announced earlier this year that it will offer only asphalt-based products after 2012.
“Jet-Black is one of the larger companies in the sealcoating business, and their switch to asphalt-based products is significant for the protection of human health and the environment.” Stine added. “They are helping to lead the way for others, and encouraging the development of new additives and formulations aimed at preventing pollution of our water resources. This leadership is worthy of recognition.”