Eagan-based Jet-Black International will voluntarily phase out coal-tar-based pavement sealers after 2012. The company decided to phase out coal-tar-based sealers late this winter in response to scientific data showing that this type of sealer is a major source of contamination to stormwater collection ponds. Jet-Black International is one of the nation’s larger franchisers of pavement seal-coating services.
Research by the U.S. Geological Survey, the MPCA, and the University of New Hampshire has found that chemicals wash off pavement treated with coal-tar sealants, and then accumulate in the sediments of lakes, stormwater ponds, and wetlands. Of special concern is the chemical group of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs can be harmful to human health at sufficient concentrations, and some are classified as carcinogenic by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The switch to an asphalt-based formulation, which contain much lower levels of PAHs than do coal tar formulations, will help keep these harmful chemicals out of surface waters.
“Jet-Black is a wonderful example of how Minnesota businesses are helping to prevent pollution,” MPCA Commissioner John Stine said. “When business leaders embrace science-based recommendations and take action voluntarily, everyone benefits.”
In 2009, the Legislature required Minnesota state agencies to stop using coal-tar-based sealers. Since then, the MPCA has been working with cities, retailers, and commercial applicators to encourage a switch to asphalt-based sealants.
“Jet-Black is one of the larger companies in the seal-coating business, and their switch to asphalt-based products is significant for the protection of human health, the environment, and especially the budgets of cities that are responsible for maintaining these stormwater ponds,” Stine added. “Jet-Black is helping to lead the way for others, and encouraging the development of new additives and formulations aimed at preventing pollution of our water resources.”
Cities must maintain stormwater ponds by dredging them, and if the PAH concentrations in the dredged material are high enough, disposal can be very expensive.
Learn more. More detailed information is available in this article from the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology (Jan. 2012):Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoat and PAHs - Implications for the Environment, Human Health, and Stormwater Management