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Parking Lot Sealcoat: A Major Source of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Urban and Suburban Environments

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbos (PAHs) occur naturally in coal and gasoline and are present in products such as asphalt sealants. Some PAHs are listed as possible or probable human carcinogens and also cause a wide variety of problems in aquatic environments. In urban areas like Rochester, a common surce of PAHs is from driveways and roads coated in coal-tar sealant. When PAHs degrade, they are transported from our driveways and roads into the envrionement by storm water runoff.  What can you do? Unsealed driveways and parking lots are the most water friendly option. Read labels and avoid coal-tar sealannts as they release 65 times more PAH into the environment than uncoated parking lots. If you must seal-coat a surface, choose a product that is asphalt based. More information on PAHs: