coal tar sealant

SPRINGFIELD – Public schools and state agencies would be required to disclose the use of toxic coal tar-based pavement sealant under State Senator Laura Fine’s (D-Glenview) initiative, which passed the Senate Friday.

“Clean air is a basic human right, and parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children breathing in dangerous chemicals on the playground,” Senator Fine said. “Disclosing the use of coal tar-based sealants and encouraging cleaner alternatives is essential to protecting our community and the environment.”  

Under Senator Fine’s Coal Tar Sealant Act, public schools, public school districts, daycares and state agencies would be required to disclose the use of coal tar-based sealant on playgrounds, parking lots and other paved areas. This measure would also require groups planning to use coal tar-based sealant for a pavement project to look into cleaner alternatives.

High levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) are found in coal tar and some other sealants used in pavement projects, which could lead to environmental contamination as the sealants wear away over time. There are many environmentally friendly alternatives to coal tar-based sealants with little to no PAH that are available at a similar cost.

Studies have shown PAH compounds may cause cancer, birth defects and other health complications. Lifelong exposure to coal tar-treated pavements and playgrounds can increase an individual's cancer risk by 38 times.

“The health and environmental effects of being exposed to coal tar-based sealants are too dangerous to ignore,” Senator Fine said. “This legislation will protect our neighbors and help ensure our communities are able to thrive for future generations.”

Seven cities in Illinois have already banned coal-tar sealants, including three cities in the district Senator Fine represents.

Senate Bill 692 passed the Senate and now goes to the House of Representatives.