SPRINGFIELD – To better protect the health of children and all Illinois residents, the use of toxic coal tar-based pavement sealant in construction projects at public schools and state agencies will have to be disclosed under a measure sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview), which was signed into law Friday.
“Children and families across Illinois should be able to live their lives without exposure to cancer-causing chemicals on the playground or at work,” Senator Fine said. “This law will protect our communities today and our environment for years to come.”
Under Senator Fine’s Coal Tar Sealant Act, public schools, public school districts, daycares and state agencies will be required to disclose the use of coal tar-based sealant on playgrounds, parking lots and other paved areas. This measure will also require groups planning to use coal tar-based sealant for a pavement project to look into cleaner alternatives.
High levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) are found in coal tar sealants used in pavement projects, which could lead to environmental contamination as the sealants wear away over time. There are environmentally friendly alternatives to coal tar-based sealants with little to no PAH that are available at a similar cost.
Studies have shown PAH compounds may cause cancer, birth defects and other health complications. Lifelong exposure to coal tar-treated pavements and playgrounds can increase an individual’s cancer risk by 38 times.
“Clearing playgrounds, schools, park districts and public buildings of coal tar is an important step to eliminating a pollutant that is a threat to our local environment and a health hazard to Illinoisans,” said State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), who sponsored the bill in the House. “Removing coal tar products will help ensure our communities are a safe place for our kids to grow up.”
Senate Bill 692 was signed into law Friday and will take effect Jan. 1, 2023.