Greendale Bans Coal Tar Sealant

Greendale adopted an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of coal tar pavement sealant products and any pavement sealant product containing > 1% polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by weight. This ordinance was passed to improve and protect public health and the water quality of Greendale and neighboring water resources.

Under this ordinance:

  • No person shall apply coal tar or any other high PAH sealant product within the Village of Greendale.
  • No person shall allow coal tar or any other high PAH sealant product to be applied on property under that person’s ownership or control within the Village of Greendale.
  • No person shall sell coal tar or any other high PAH sealant product within the Village of Greendale.
  • Any person selling pavement sealants products in the Village of Greendale must display a sign informing customers of the prohibition.
  • Any person who applies prohibited products is subject to a fine of $500 per violation for a resident or up to $10,000 for a business.


Pavement sealants are commonly applied to driveways, parking lots, playgrounds, and private roads to provide maintain a deep black color and to protect the underlying pavement. Some types of pavement sealants, particularly coal tar sealants, contain high levels of PAHs. Many PAHs are toxic, carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and/or cause birth defects or developmental problems in humans and animals.

There are many sources of PAHs to the environment, but coal tar sealants contain hundreds to thousands of times more PAHs than other sources like vehicle exhaust or motor oil. A recent United States Geological Survey study of rivers and streams in the greater Milwaukee area found that 75% of the PAHs in the sediment were coming from coal tar pavement sealants.

Children living next to coal tar sealed pavement are estimated to have 14 times higher excess cancer risks, due to inhaling or incidentally ingesting particles as they play on and around these surfaces. Particles are also blown or tracked into homes, increasing exposure. The American Medical Association and other public health experts have reviewed the evidence and support bans of these products to protect public health.


There are sealant products that contain much lower, or no, PAHs. Asphalt emulsion sealants are widely available and contain about a thousand times fewer PAHs. Acrylic or latex sealants contain no PAHs.

Do not use or allow contractors to use high PAH sealants on your property. Look at the ingredients listed on product’s label or material safety data sheet (which distributors and contractors should be able to provide) and avoid products listing any of the following terms:

coal tar, coal tar pitch, coal tar distillates, RT-12, refined tar, refined coal tar pitch, coal tar pitch volatiles, tar, steam-cracked petroleum residue, steam-cracked asphalt, pyrolysis fuel oil, pyrolysis oil, heavy aromatic pyrolysis oil, heavy fuel oil (HFO), heavy pyrolysis oil (HPO), ethylene tar, ethylene bottoms

or chemical abstract service (CAS) numbers:

                65996-92-1; 65996-93-2; 65996-89-6; 8007-45-2; 64742-90-1; 69013-21-4

If you suspect someone is using a prohibited sealant product, contact XXXXX at XXXX


United States Geological Survey Website on the Issue:

United State Environmental Protection Agency factsheet: