Minneapolis bans coal tar sealants to keep water safe

The City of Minneapolis took action Friday, July 20, to ban coal tar-based sealants, which are used on asphalt driveways and parking lots. These sealants contain chemicals that erode and run off in the rain. They accumulate in stormwater holding ponds and in lake sediments in Minnesota. They pollute water, cause birth defects in fish and other aquatic life, and can cause cancer in humans, so the accumulations must be treated like hazardous waste, which is expensive. Asphalt-based sealants, which do not contain coal tar, will still be legal and are a safe and high quality alternative.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, it will be illegal in Minneapolis to sell any coal tar sealer product for use in Minneapolis and for anyone to apply any coal tar sealer product to driveways, parking lots or other surfaces in Minneapolis.

The new ordinance was based on a draft by the League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Minneapolis joins about 20 Minnesota cities that ban the sale and use of coal tar-based sealants. Four states restrict them, the State of Washington bans them, and five states have cities with bans or restrictions. Eight major home improvement stores have stopped selling coal tar-based sealants. Minnesota state agencies are restricted from purchasing and using coal tar-based sealants, and a federal ban is proposed. Coal tar-based sealants have not been used by Minneapolis Public Works, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, or the Minneapolis School Board.

Published Jul. 20, 2012