Springfield Wants to Curb Use of Harmful Sealants

Jun 16, 2017

The city of Springfield is voluntarily refraining from using coal tar based sealants (CTBS) at its facilities after studies suggest they can be harmful to streams and aquatic life.

The City Council’s Community Involvement Committee met on Tuesday to discuss an alternative method of the compound. The CTBS contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a group of chemicals that can be found in products made from fossil fuels.

Assistant Director of Environmental Services Errin Kemper says the chemical show up in nearby streams after it rains. The city says the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has listed several local streams as “impaired” due to high levels of PAH found in its sediment.

Kemper recommends reducing the use of CTBS by 25 percent over the next five years.

“So there are alternatives to coal tar based sealants,” says Kemper. “There are several different types of asphalt emulsions that can be used to seal asphalt pavement.  These asphalt emulsions contain much lower levels of PAHs then there coal tar based sealants.”

She adds that CTBS is affecting the water quality in the Ozarks, which contributes heavily to the way of life and the economy.  Kemper mentions that anything we can do to protect the water sources in this region will help the community long-term. 

“What we are going to do is start a voluntary program that includes voluntary commitment from business owners and people around the community to not use coal tar based sealants.”

Asphalt based sealants cost more than coal based sealants. But the city says there will be an incentive for the businesses that make the switch. 

The city says it also intends to work closely with the sealant industry to include them in the program.