June 20 • 11:21 AM

Almont mulls ban on coal tar sealants

Clinton River Watershed group says compound is carcinogenic

July 12, 2017
ALMONT — The Village of Almont is now among a growing number of Michigan communities considering the creation of ordinances to regulate the use of coal tar sealant products.

Coal tar sealant is a substance that is applied to asphalt to seal the surface and prevent damage from everyday wear and tear.

Though its use is widespread, coal tar sealant contains Plycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) which are known to be human carcinogens.

On Wednesday, July 5, representatives from the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) attended the Almont Village Council meeting to express their concerns about the infiltration of PAH's into local waterways.

Having been enlightened about PAH's impact on humans, fish and macroinvertebrates, the council discussed regulations governing the use of coal tar sealant within the village limits, or simply educating the public of the threat.

"Coal tar substances have been shown to be hazardous to humans and to the environment." said Village Manager Mike Connors. "It's being used everywhere and many communities are taking steps to regulate or ban its use."

A worker demonstrates the process of applying a coal tar sealant to a surface.

Thus far, the following municipalities and/or townships have outright banned the use of coal tar sealants.

They include: the Cities of Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Dexter; and the Townships of Scio, Hamburg, Ann Arbor, Spring Lake and Pittsfield.

Michigan governments that have restricted its use include: City of Grand Haven, Villages of Saint Charles, Whitehall and Shepard; the University of Michigan and the Townships of Erie, Laketon, Fruitland, Whitehall, Albert, Byron, Clark, Powell and White River.

The states of Washington and Minnesota have also issued bans, as has the District of Columbia.

Information provided by (CRWC) states that PAHs (the biproduct of coal tar sealants) are being found in streams and waterways throughout Michigan, when stormwater runoff containing the harmful compounds mixes with freshwater.

CRWC representatives identified the dangers of coal tar sealants and potential consequences of exposure to coal tar sealant. They include:

•Carcinogenic: Cause cancer.

•Mutagenic: Cause mutations.

•Teratogenic: Cause birth defects.

•Deformaties in fish species, stunting the growth of amphibians and largely toxic and deadly to small freshwater organisms.

Connors added that the Clinton River Watershed Council is urging "big box" stores throughout Michigan to stop selling coal tar sealant products.

"We're looking at possibly drafting an ordinance that would ban the substance from use in the village," said Connors.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
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