Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Announces Passage of Her Bill to Ban the Use of Coal Tar-Based Sealant Products Now Heads to Governor’s Desk

New York, NY – New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) announced that after 10 years ofher bill to ban the sale of coal tar-based pavement products has passed the New York State Assembly and Senate and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

“We know that coal tar is bad for our health and our environment, and it’s high time that we follow the lead of other cities and states that have already taken action to limit its use. Along with a broad coalition of environmental organizations and advocates, I have been fighting for ten long years to see this bill become law, and I will continue to push until it is finally signed,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan).

Coal tar is commonly used as a sealant and applied to driveways and parking lots to protect and maintain them. Coal tar-based sealcoats contain high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been linked to cancer and are toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

Recent studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey have shown that while levels of the majority of common environmental pollutants in our waterways are consistently declining, components of coal tar sealants are being found at increasing levels.

“Coal tar isn’t just dangerous for fish and aquatic wildlife, it’s dangerous for our children and our pets. Research has shown high levels of chemicals associated with coal tar sealants in house dust, which accumulates on the floor, where children and pets are most likely to be exposed. When effective alternatives exist, such as asphalt- based sealants, that contain and shed far fewer toxic particles exist, there is no reason not to act,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal.

The bill, which is sponsored by State Senator Sanders, will prohibit the sale of products one year after becoming law, and the use of products two years after becoming law.

"The passage of this bill, if signed into law, represents a bright future and a turning point, not just for the people and environment of New York, but also for the rest of the nation. Instead of every parking lot being a potential exposure hazard, cleaner air, water and healthier people will result. It has literally been a 15-year journey from New York Harbor, Gowanus Canal, Tonawanda, Suffolk County and Albany. I am grateful to be part of that. Thanks go to the persistence of Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator James Sanders, Jr." said Thomas Ennis, Coal Tar Free America

"Under Assemblywoman Rosenthal’s leadership, the Assembly joined the Senate led by Senator Sanders by voting to ban the toxic and carcinogenic coal tar-based pavement sealants. This harmful coal-based product is applied to driveways, parking lots, and even playgrounds across the state, running off into our waterways, poisoning wildlife and into people’s homes, where it can pose health risks, particularly for children,” said Jeremy Cherson, Legislative Advocacy Manager for Riverkeeper.

“When signed into law, this bill would ban coal tar sealants from being used and sold in New York, which will join Minnesota, Washington State, and the District of Columbia in banning the toxic product."

Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director for NYPIRG, said, "Coal tar sealants have caused more toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, PAHs, to be found in homes and urban lakes and other waterways. With alternatives readily available on the market, and already in widespread use, coal tar sealants should no longer be used in New York. NYPIRG applauds the legislature for passage of this legislation, and especially thanks Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Senator Sanders for their leadership. The Governor should not hesitate to protect the health of New Yorkers by signing this bill into law."

“Coal based tar sealants are caustic and toxic, are often applied to parking lots and playgrounds, and are especially harmful to children and the workers who apply them,” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. “We applaud Assembly Member Rosenthal and the New York State Assembly for banning the dangerous, unnecessary sale and use of these toxic substances, since safer, cost- and performance-effective alternatives are readily available.”

“It seems like every day we learn of the cancer-causing effects of another long-named chemical. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in pavement sealants are another example of this and pose an on-going threat to both public health and the environment. They are rightly banned by this bill. We thank Assembly Member Rosenthal for her leadership in protecting New York’s health and look forward to the Governor signing this important piece of legislation into law,” said Robert Hayes, Director of Clean Water for Environmental Advocates NY.

The bill was supported by a broad group of environmental organizations and advocates including: Riverkeeper, Coal Tar Free America, Clean and Healthy NY, NYPIRG, Environmental Advocates NY, Sierra Club, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium, a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Earthjustice, Food & Water Watch, New York League of Conservation Voters, NRDC, Peconic Baykeeper, Save the Sound, Surfrider Foundation, The New York Climate and Reality chapters Coalition.