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Coal Tar Ban Effectively Removes Toxic Chemicals from Environment

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Removed Chemicals Equivalent to 600,000 Gallons of Used Motor Oil

CONTACT: Donna Henry (DDOE) 202.299.3338; [email protected]

Washington, DC – The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) announced today that 436,271 square feet of coal tar pavement sealant have been remediated from 13 privately-owned parking lots as a result of its enforcement actions under the District’s ban on coal tar pavement products.

Coal tar pavement sealants contain extremely high levels of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are harmful to humans and animals. The remediated sealant contains the same amount of PAHs as approximately 600,000 gallons of undilutedused motor oil, one of the most concentrated sources of PAHs in the urban environment.

“The remediation of these sites is necessary to protect the District’s communities and water bodies,” said DDOE Director Keith A. Anderson. “Over time, traffic wears pavement sealant into toxic dust that can be tracked into homes or carried by stormwater into our local waterways. This threatens aquatic life in the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.”

The toxic sealant on most of the lots was removed with shot blast machines, which use steel shot to pulverize the sealant layer. The machines were equipped with vacuums and high-efficiency air filters to prevent ambient dust release. Effective removal of the coal tar sealant on one lot was achieved by permanently encapsulating the sealant with a new layer of pavement and monitoring the site to prevent the release of PAHs into the environment.

Since the ban took effect on July 1, 2009, DDOE has conducted extensive outreach to licensed contractors, property owners, property managers, pavement sealant distributors, and industry trade groups in order to prevent violations of the law.

For more information on the coal tar ban, visit