Choose safer alternatives to high PAH sealants

As the weather warms and drys, home and buisness owners may be considering sealcoating their asphalt lots and driveways. HRWC has been advocating for safer sealing throughout the watershed because of the human health and water quality impacts of some common sealant products.

There are several pavement sealant formulations contractors apply when hired to sealcoat asphalt surfaces.  Many of these are high in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs — a class of chemicals that occur in our environment at levels that harm aquatic ecosystems, contaminate soils and put humans at higher risk of cancer and other health issues. Coal tar based sealcoats are by far the most common high-PAH sealcoats on the market but some newer products are also high in PAH content. Asphalt based sealcoats are the safer alternative and there are applicator companies throughout our region that can apply these safer alternatives.

It is also important to remember that now many Huron River communities have regulated these products. The following watershed communities prohibit the application of high-PAH sealcoats:

  • Ann Arbor
  • Ann Arbor Township
  • Dexter
  • Hamburg
  • Pittsfield Township
  • Scio Township
  • VanBuren Township
  • West Bloomfield
  • Wolverine Lake
  • Ypsilanti

For more information on this issue, how to identify safe products and companies that can apply those alternatives, and which Michigan communities prohibit the use of toxic sealants, visit our webpage on pavement sealants