When you carefully squeegeed a shiny coat of tar-black sealant over your Philadelphia driveway last summer, it’s unlikely you knew you were creating a serious health and environmental hazard. Neither did millions of other responsible American home owners, churches, schools, groceries, apartment managers and business owners who for years have regularly resealed asphalt driveways and parking lots to improve appearance and increase pavement life. Now, Philadelphia personal injury lawyers warn, disturbing results of a recent study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) indicate that coal tar driveway sealants, the kind most frequently used in Philadelphia, can create health and environmental hazards on a par with toxic dump sites.
A toxic byproduct of the steelmaking process, coal tar contains high concentrations of known cancer-causing chemicals, most prominently benzo(a)pyrene. When coal tar sealant spread on Philadelphia driveways and parking lots starts to crumble and break down, the USGS study found that particles form a toxic dust that is easily transported into homes, schools, churches and businesses by summer breezes or on shoes and clothing. When rain or runoff from lawn watering mixes with this toxic dust, the poisonous chemicals are carried into local waterways where they pose a serious environmental threat to fish, plants and wildlife.
The Pearce Law Firm warn that, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, the toxic level of benzo(a)pyrene USGS researchers found in sealant dust “was 5,300 higher than the level that triggers an EPA Superfund cleanup.”
“Such high concentrations usually are found at Superfund sites, but this could be your church parking lot or your school playground or even your own driveway,” USGS researcher Barbara Mahler told the Tribune.
Philadelphia personal injury attorneys warn that anyone who has applied coal-tar sealants or who lives or works in a building where pavements have been treated with coal-tar sealants may be at risk.