Coal Tar Sealant Ban to Asphalt Contractor in Maryland’s Prince George’s County

Effective July 1, 2015, it is illegal to sell, use or permit the use of coal tar pavement products on property in Prince George’s County (click here to review a copy of CB-6-2015). Contractors or property owners that use a coal tar pavement product are subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per day for each violation.

Coal tar pavement products are a thick black or brown liquid that is a byproduct of the carbonization of coal and is applied to asphalt and concrete surfaces.  They are used to seal the following:

  • parking lots;
  • driveways;
  • recreational trails;
  • airport runways and lots; and
  • playgrounds.

The ban will minimize the unnecessary stormwater runoff of harmful and persistent chemicals into the environment. Coal tar products contain high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to cause cancer in humans and are toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Studies found that PAHs are significantly elevated in stormwater flowing from parking lots and other areas where coal tar products were used as compared to stormwater flowing from areas not treated with the sealant. For example, one study found the amount of PAHs in stormwater runoff was 65 times higher from parking lots sealed with coal-tar sealant vs. stormwater from unsealed parking lots. Another study found that coal tar products are the largest source of PAHs to urban lakes. PAHs from coal tar products may accumulate in the sediment of stormwater ponds, requiring expensive disposal of the dredged PAH-contaminated sediment.

Graphic Credit:  Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

As an alternative, pavement options such as pervious concrete, permeable asphalt and paver systems do not require sealants. These types of pavements allow for stormwater to naturally infiltrate, resulting in decreased runoff. Property owners should use safer approved products including asphalt-based sealants and latex sealants to complete their do-it-yourself projects.  For those hiring a contractor to perform the work, make sure you you request they use a coal tar-free product and to see the ingredient list or a copy of the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) with clear ingredient identification. If a safety data sheet is not available, ask for more information or move to a product or supplier who offers one. Most local home improvement stores and other retailers carry asphalt-based or latex sealants.

Alternative Products

This is a list of coal tar free pavement products to assist in the Prince George’s County Coal Tar Pavement Product Ban. The listing of a specific product trade name does not constitute an endorsement of its use nor does this list represent all of the coal tar pavement products available on the market. The County encourages persons to be fully informed of all aspects of the product chosen in order to comply with the ban.