Abby King, Toxics Policy Advocate
Good Morning Senator Boyle, Representative Welsh, and distinguished members of the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
My name is Abby King, I am the Toxics Policy Advocate with the Natural Resources Council of Maine and I am here to testify in support of LD 1212. I live in Brunswick and I thank my own Representative, Ms. Daughtry, for bringing this bill before you today.
Coal tar-based pavement seal coats contain very high levels of cancer-causing chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which can build up in ponds or lakes[i]. Tires grind the sealcoat down, and these particles wash down storm drains, are blown onto adjacent soil and pavement, and are tracked into homes on the soles of shoes where it becomes part of household dust[ii].
If Maine can avoid this source of contamination to our surface waters, then we should. Coal tar is a known carcinogen for humans and fish. In 2011, the National Toxicology Program concluded that workers exposed to this product developed skin cancer; exposure is linked to cancer in the lung, bladder, kidney, and digestive tract[iii]. Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey found that living close to driveways coated with coal tar sealants is associated with significant increases in estimated excess lifetime cancer risk, and that much of the increased risk occurs during early childhood[iv]. In addition to the potential health risk of PAHs, there can be substantial costs for cities and private property owners to manage sediment in stormwater ponds that are contaminated with PAHs from coal tar-based sealants[v].
Bans on Coal Tar Sealants are in place in Washington State and Washington DC, as well as dozens of municipalities across the U.S. And legislation similar to LD 1212 is currently under consideration in four other states this year.
Safer alternatives are available and affordable. Asphalt-based coatings are now available with equivalent performance and at similar cost. These sealants contain 1/1000th the PAH level of coal tar sealcoats[vi]. They are permitted in locations with bans on coal tar.
For these reasons, NRCM supports LD 1212. Thank you for the opportunity to testify and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.