Photo | Jeff Covey

Coal Tar Products Banned in Montgomery County

UPDATED The new law (Bill 21-12) makes Montgomery County one of the largest counties in nation and first in Maryland to ban sale of sealants containing coal tar products. The bill was sponsored by Council member Craig Rice and cosponsored by Council members Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer. Enforcement of the new law will be overseen by the County’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The Montgomery County Council passed a bill banning the use of coal tar products in the county, effective December 18, 2012. Coal tar is a common ingredient in driveway and parking lot sealants. Use of a coal tar based sealant can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 for both the property owner and the applicator.

Coal tar is a byproduct of coal processing and contains high levels of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some PAHs are known human carcinogens. Studies have shown that when coal tar-based sealants are applied on parking lots and driveways, PAHs can be released into nearby surface waters, where they can accumulate in sediments at levels potentially harmful to aquatic wildlife. The presence of PAHs in sediments may increase costs to businesses, homeowner’s associations and others charged with maintaining stormwater management facilities.

Alternatives to coal tar-based sealants are widely available. If you plan to seal your own driveway, local home improvement stores carry asphalt-based or latex sealants. For those hiring a contractor, ask to see the ingredient list of the sealing product to insure it does not contain the prohibited substances coal tar, refined coal tar, coal tar pitch or RT-12.

To learn about sealant options, visit

An informational flyer about the ban is available online in downloadable form in English and Spanish.


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