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Montgomery Council Approves Limitations on Sale of Dangerous Driveway Sealants

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ROCKVILLE, Md., September 11, 2012—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 21-12 that will prohibit the use and sale of certain coal-tar products that are generally used as sealants on driveways. Passage of the legislation makes Montgomery the first county in Maryland, and one of the largest counties in the nation, to prohibit the sale of the sealants, which have been recognized to contaminate soils, lakes and homes as they disintegrate and run off after application.

Councilmember Craig Rice was the chief sponsor of the bill, which was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer.

The bill aims to control problems caused by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) released into the environment through the use of coal tar pavement products. PAH compounds have been cited as probable human carcinogens. Pavement sealant is a liquid that is sprayed or painted on some asphalt pavement to protect the pavement surface. Sealcoat products generally have a coal-tar pitch or asphalt base. Coal-tar based sealcoat products are usually composed of 20 to 35 percent coal-tar pitch and have about 1,000 times more PAHs than do sealcoat products with an asphalt base.

“I am happy that, unanimously, my colleagues felt confident that coal tar-based sealants are the largest source of PAH contamination to our urban lakes and pose a threat our communities and the environment,” said Councilmember Rice. “Those residents who live in our more densely populated areas where coal-tar based sealants were used can rest assured that these contaminants will no longer plague their neighborhood streams and lakes.”

The U.S. Geolological Survey and the American Chemical Society have explained that sealcoat does not stay on a pavement permanently. Sealcoat manufacturers generally recommend re-applications between one and five years, depending upon the product used. The particles can be washed off the roadway by rain and carried through storm drains in streams, ponds and stormwater management devices. Other particles can be blown away offsite by wind or tracked indoors on the soles of shoes.

Enforcement of the law will be overseen by the County’s Department of Environmental Protection.

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Release ID: 12-160
Media Contact: Neil Greenberger 240-777-7939, Delphine Harriston 240-777-7931