Coal tar seal coat, widely sprayed on driveways and parking lots all over Long Island, has a nasty habit of finding its way into our waterways and groundwater -- and household dust -- carrying a suspected carcinogen. So the Suffolk County Legislature has passed legislation to ban its sale and use here. County Executive Steve Levy should ensure it becomes law.
Municipalities around the country, in states as dissimilar as Texas and Wisconsin, have already passed bans. And some national home improvement retailers have stopped selling products that contain coal tar.
The culprits are chemical compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The U.S. Geological Survey has found elevated levels of this pollutant in a variety of places near coal tar-treated parking lots. In apartments near these parking lots, the concentrations of PAH in household dust are 25 times higher than in apartments near lots without coal tar. One Island lake, Wantagh's Newbridge Pond, had the second-highest PAH level of the 40 the USGS studied.
Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) does not describe himself primarily as an environmentalist, but the evidence for the bill he sponsored was more than persuasive to him.
This legislature has set national precedents, like the ban on ephedra dietary supplements. In this case, it's just following what others have done, based on the evidence. Levy should weigh the evidence and sign the bill. hN