Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

Concerns about Pavement Sealers

Many homeowners apply pavement sealers to their driveways to protect and beautify them but there are growing concerns about how the chemicals they are made from affect the environment. Coal-tar based sealants are of particular concern because they contain high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been linked to cancer and respiratory problems, and are known to be toxic to aquatic life. Asphalt or acrylic/polymer based sealers, which are safer to use and better for the environment, are being recommended by many leading environmental agencies.

PAHs are present everywhere in the environment but with growing concerns about their effects steps are being taken to reduce and eliminate them, steps that have included bans on the use of coal tar-based driveway sealants in many municipalities across the nation. To punctuate these widening concerns, major home retailers Home Depot and Lowe’s have eliminated coal tar-based driveway sealants from their stores.

When sealing asphalt driveway surfaces make sure to use an eco-friendly product, whether you do it yourself or hire a commercial applicator. The Highland General Store carries an asphalt-based sealer made by Henry. All driveway sealants should be used with caution and in accordance with the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions.

Before deciding to pave or repave your driveway with asphalt, consider using a 3/4 inch gravel alternative which is much less expensive to install and maintain, and much more environmentally friendly.

More information on this topic is available on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website and on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. A comprehensive summary of findings and resources related to the environmental consequences of coal tar-based asphalt sealers has also been published by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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