Thursday, May 5, 2011

We’re number one!

Washington today became the first state in the nation to ban coal-tar pavement sealants, which are laced with toxins that poison rivers, lakes, fish and other aquatic life—and that are suspected to increase cancer risks in people.

You can thank House Democrat David Frockt and the Washington Environmental Council for leading the way.

Check out today’s story on MSNBC!

Coal tar sealants are the toxic stuff that caused last July’s Boone Fish Kill in North Carolina, wiping out all aquatic life along a mile and a half stretch of Hodges Creek

The US Geological Survey has identified these sealants as the leading cause of rising levels of toxic PAHs (short for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in streams and lakes across the United States—including Lake Washington and Lake Ballinger in the state we love best.

Why would anyone use this risky substance? Good question. It’s marketed as a sealcoat to protect and prettify asphalt, but anyone can buy asphalt-based sealants that do the same job.

In fact, the USGS found that the coal-tar products have PAH concentrations that are 1,000 times higher than their asphalt-based rivals.

Responsible retailers like Home Depot and Lowes have already voluntarily yanked coal tar sealants from their shelves in Washington, because of the toxic threats. The Washington Department of Transportation stopped using it for the same reason (WSDOT replaced it with the safer asphalt alternative).

Kudos also go to Washington’s Department of Ecology and Department of Natural Resources for their powerful testimony in favor of the ban, as well as to Rep. Dave Upthegrove and Sen. Phil Rockefeller, who worked with Rep. Frockt to shepherd House Bill 1721 into law.

As Rep. Frockt puts it, Washington is the first state, but won’t be the last, to ban this toxic threat—because we’re once again leading the nation in the right direction for the health of our people and environment.

To read this blog post in Spanish, go here.