• Coal Tar sealant used to prevent cracks in parking lots dangerous, officials say

    By: Tina Terry

    Updated:

    MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - A product called Coal Tar Sealant is used on parking lots to help keep water out and prevent cracks.

    It’s used throughout Mecklenburg County, but some county leaders want to ban the product because they say it is dangerous.

    Coal Tar contains chemicals harmful to the environment.

    Rusty Rozzelle, with Mecklenburg County Water Quality, said it can also hurt humans.

    Coal Tar is a carcinogenic, and once it's applied to pavement, dangerous contaminants can blow into nearby homes, vaporize into the air and run off into local streams and waterways.

    Data prepared by Mecklenburg County stormwater services shows people who live next to Coal Tar sealed pavement have an elevated cancer risk 38 times higher than others.

    “It has been found that it has terrible impact on ecology and human health,” Rozzelle said.

     Olivia Edwards, a supervisor with the water quality department, said the product, which protects pavement from water damage, is used on nearly 78 percent of the parking lots tested in Mecklenburg County.

    "The material has washed off creeks into the storm drain,” she said.

    A Youtube video from 2010 was taken after the Watauga Riverkeeper said Coal Tar from a business parking lot washed into a drain and killed fish in a nearby stream.

    Officials in Boone said that event triggered an ordinance restricting the use of Coal Tar sealant.

    Mecklenburg leaders are now pushing for an all-out ban.

    Industry experts said there are alternatives.

     “Our product has additional cost to it, versus Coal Tar, but the service life of the product is excellent. It is environmentally friendly,” said Ron Dijiacomandrea, of BCI Materials.

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