Keep your kids safe from Coal Tar!

Apr 25 2016

Share on Social Media
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.29.06 PM


Spring is in the air.  Time to get out there and clean up our yards from winter.  One thing you may  want to do is seal your asphalt driveway to help it last and make it look nice.  Did you know that the sealcoat you use may contain a Coal Tar base often called pitch?  Coal Tar Pitch is the residue left over after coal tar is distilled.  They make this into a liquid that can be sprayed or poured on to asphalt.  Sealcoat used in the midwest often contains Coal Tar Pitch.

Why is it dangerous?

Coal Tar Pitch is a potent source of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Coal Tar Pitch contains over 200 PAHs.  At least 7 PAHs are probable carcinogens.  Coal Tar has 1000 higher PAHs concentration than asphalt based sealcoat.  The PAH concentration is hundreds of times higher that tire particles, used motor oil and other urban sources.

So once I seal my driveway with a Coal Tar Pitch sealant and it is dry, then it is safe right?  Wrong!  Coal Tar turns to dust from friction of tires rubbing on it.  That dust is transported by wind, rain, and snow plows to nearby soils and waterways.  It is also tracked into your home on the bottoms of your shoes.

What are the risks?

A child who spends the first 6 years of their life next to coal-tar-sealed pavement has a 25 times higher cancer risk than those exposed to other urban PAHs.   These cancers include: Lung, Bladder, Skin, Respiratory Tract, and Urinary Tract.  Why are young children more susceptible to these cancers due to Coal Tar?  Children spend time on driveways playing ball or with sidewalk chalk.  Young children often put their hands in their mouths.  The number one way young children are adversely affected by Coal Tar is through ingestion.

Are there other affordable and safe options?

Yes!  Many home improvement stores (Home Depot & Lowes) do not even sell Coal Tar Sealant anymore.  An asphalt based sealant is available for only pennies more per gallon.  If you hire a company to seal your driveway, be sure they are using asphalt based sealant.  


Keep your kids, animals, our soil and water safe from Coal Tar!  


Research provided by: Susan Buchanan, MD, MPH Director, Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health
For even more info:

Are You Ready To Do Your Part?

Volunteer Donate