Residents, businesses and contractors planning to reseal driveways or parking lots should be aware that coal tar, a common ingredient in resealing products, can no longer be used in Montgomery County. Last year, the Montgomery County Council passed Bill 21-12 that banned the use of coal tar products, effective December 18, 2012. Under the law, use of a coal-tar based sealant can lead to a fine of up to $1,000—for both the property owner and the applicator.
Coal tar is a byproduct of coal processing and contains high levels of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some PAHs are known human carcinogens. Studies have shown that when coal tar-based sealants are applied on parking lots and driveways, PAHs can be released into nearby surface waters, where they can accumulate in sediments at levels potentially harmful to aquatic wildlife. The presence of PAHs in sediments may increase costs to businesses, homeowner’s associations and others charged with maintaining stormwater management facilities.
Alternatives to coal tar-based sealants are widely available. For do-it-yourselfers, local home improvement stores carry asphalt-based or latex sealants. For those hiring a contractor, ask to see the ingredient list of the sealing product to insure it does not contain the prohibited substances coal tar, refined coal tar, coal tar pitch or RT-12.
An informational flyer about the ban is available online in downloadable form in English
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