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MPCA Warns Coal Tar Driveway Sealants Have Cancerous Chemicals

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s a warning out Tuesday from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Officials say many people may be sealing their driveways with something that’s harmful to their health.

Officials said it’s all about keeping harmful chemicals out of water systems in Minnesota. Summer is a time when a lot of us are thinking about doing projects around our home, and that includes repairing or resealing the driveway.

MPCA officials are warning the public about a coal tar sealant that’s being used to re-seal driveways. Researchers say that this type of sealant has a cancer causing chemical that’s banned in 19 cities in Minnesota, and many of those are in the Twin Cities metro.

Officials said the chemicals in question are ending up in storm drainage ponds. Jet Black International is a Minnesota company that is phasing out the use of coal tar sealants and is switching to a sealant that they say is less toxic.

“I think it’s important to the state of Minnesota with these expensive pond clean-ups. If the quality of the product isn’t worse, then there really is no reason not to make the switch,” said Nick Kelso with Jet Black International.

In 2009, state agencies were banned from using this type of sealant, but some homeowners and companies continued to use it.

The MPCA says that by Jet Black International taking the lead in phasing old coal tar sealants, they hope other companies will follow as well as homeowners. Home repair stores, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, no longer sell coal tar sealants for your driveway.

They are still available at some other home repair outlets, though. One thing you can do if you’re hiring out to seal your driveway is ask the company what type of sealant they use. Jet Black International uses an asphalt type of sealant instead of a coal tar sealant.

If you find a company that uses coal tar sealants, that’s the warning that you should find another company or use a different product.

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