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Letter to NY Governor Requesting Veto

Dear Mr. Shah:

On behalf of the Pavement Coatings Technology Council (PCTC), we note that Assembly bill 518/Senate bill 4095 has been delivered to the Governor for executive action. On behalf of PCTC, we urge the Governor, based on the below, to veto the above-referenced bill.

The bill, if signed into law, would prohibit the use of refined coal tar-based sealers in New York. As way of background, there are two common types of pavement sealers, one uses an asphalt base and the other a refined coal tar base. These sealers are routinely used by many businesses, colleges and universities, school districts, municipalities and residential consumers to seal asphalt parking lots and driveways to protect against the environmental degradation and promote longevity of the underlying pavement. Use of sealants in a protective maintenance program has been demonstrated to significantly reduce costs of pavement upkeep. Enactment of this bill will not only increase costs of parking lot maintenance, it will significantly impact employers. For instance, the bill is an threatens both the direct employees of Cosmicoat of Western New York at its manufacturing facility in Gasport and the many independent businesses in Buffalo and throughout the region that distribute and use Cosmicoat’s products. It is notable that, in the decades in which sealant products have been used throughout New York State, there have been few health or environmental complaints, demonstrating PCTC’s contention the bill is a solution in search of a problem.

Refined coal tar-based sealers last longer, provide more effective protection of paved surfaces, and have a lower life cycle costs than the alternative asphalt-based sealer. With respect to claims regarding human health concerns, it is instructive to look at other products consumers use that contain the chemicals of a similar quality. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved coal tar for decades as a base ingredient for skin creams and shampoos that fight certain skin conditions. Coal tar is designated as “Generally Regarded as Safe and Effective” by FDA, which has received only 82 case reports (less than 2 per year) of adverse effects related to exposure to coal tar from 1975 to June 30, 2021. The most common reported effect has been itching (11 of 82 reports) followed by ineffectiveness (8 of 82), hypersensitivity (6 of 82), and a variety of diverse reactions with 5 or fewer reports, No death cases have been reported. For context, compare those data with an ubiquitous “Generally Regarded as Safe and Effective” substance, dextrose – a simple sugar. From 1969 to June 30, 2021, FDA has received 4,304 case reports (over 82 per year) of adverse effects related to exposure, including 501 death cases. faers.

While this alone should eliminate any concern that coal tar-based sealer is harmful, this product has been used for over six decades and there has not been a single study, properly researched, that has found any harmful impact to humans or animal life attributed to coal tar sealer. In fact, coal tar sealer has never been classified as a hazardous material by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) or as a known human carcinogen by the United State Department of Health and Human Services. In short, to date, there is no objective evidence that this product poses a danger to human health. To the contrary, consumer products have been used on the human skin and have not been proven to have a negative health impact.

The environmental “claim” is that the coal tar-based sealer releases Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) into the water and presents a contamination concern. PAHs are naturally occurring and are derived from many natural sources such as forest fires and decaying organic matter (such as leaves) to name a few. PAHs are also present in the environment from many human activities, some of which may include vehicle exhaust, heating of motor oils that occurs in internal combustion engines, electric power generation, wood fireplaces and stoves, asphalt pavement, roofing, grilling meat, shampoos, cosmetics and dyes. The New York Academy of Science studied sources of PAHs in New York-New Jersey harbor sediments, concluding that more than 1/3 of the PAHs present came from fireplaces, wood stoves, and other wood-burning sources. They concluded that less than 1% of PAHs in the harbor were possibly attributable to pavement sealers. PAHs in the environment is simply not significant from the application of a coal tar-based sealer.

While there is an alternative product, an asphalt-based sealer, the product is inferior in terms of effectiveness, especially in the Northeast. The differences between coal tar-based sealer and asphalt emulsion sealers is significant and, as a business owner, the use of the asphalt based product, can present significant customer dissatisfaction and, with the weather in the Northeast, simply does not last as long. Coal tar sealer has been around for over six decades, and coal tar was chosen over asphalt emulsion as a better raw material based on its ability to prevent the penetration from gas, oil, and other petroleum products from damaging the pavement, and the very hard film that coal tar forms over the pavement, making it very durable to heavy traffic. The performance of asphalt emulsions, on the other hand, are inconsistent for use as a raw material in sealer and are generally only as a substitute in areas where the coal tar-based product is not available. Asphalt emulsion sealers only last a couple of years, only one coat can be applied in a day, and wash out areas are very common. Coal tar-based sealers last longer, dry faster, even in colder weather, and prevent erosion and decay of the product. The fact that application of asphalt emulsion sealers requires warmer temperatures means that all New York businesses will be forced to limit the months in which they operate, with more severe impacts to revenue and employment opportunities for businesses the farther north in the state the business is located. 

When you are sealing large areas, like college campuses, government and supermarket parking lots and the like, continued sealing with asphalt sealer is costly because it must be done more often. Asphalt sealer simply does not provide that level of protection that a coal tar based sealer does. 

For these reasons, we urge the Governor to veto this legislation.

Very truly yours,

Kevin P. Quinn


View the official document HERE.

Legislation (S.2936a/A.5029a) Prohibits Use of Grade 6 Heating Oil Fuel in Buildings and Facilities in New York State  

Legislation (S.4095b/A.518a) Prohibits the Use and Sale of Pavement Products That Contain Coal Tar  

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a package of legislation to protect public health and the environment and address harmful pollutants in New York State. Legislation S.2936a/A.5029a prohibits the burning of grade 6 fuel oil in buildings. Legislation S.4095b/A.518a bans the use and sale of pavement products that contain coal tar.    

"The harmful effects of climate change and pollution have only heightened the importance of protecting the well-being of New Yorkers and the preservation of our state's environment," Governor Hochul said. "This legislation takes important steps to ensure that New Yorkers have access to clean water and a breathable environment free of harmful pollutants." 

Legislation S.2936a/A.5029a will reduce the level of toxic air pollutants that are a result of burning grade 6 fuel oil in buildings. Grade 6 fuel oil contains high concentrations of contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide, nickel, and black carbon that are released into the air when it is used to heat buildings. PAHs are proven human carcinogens, and sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide are known respiratory irritants. Studies show combustion of grade 6 fuel oil forms soot that when conveyed into the atmosphere create a source of air pollution and contribute to respiratory illness. Cost-effective alternatives for building heating are available in the market today to both reduce emissions and lower energy costs for building owners. The prohibition on the use of grade 6 fuel oil in buildings for heating goes into effect on July 1, 2023. 

Assemblymember Amy Paulin said, "The climate crisis is rapidly accelerating, and so must our response. This legislation takes aim at one of the prime causes of climate change and extreme weather:  air pollution. Fuel oil grade number 6 releases extremely harmful pollutants into our air. We must take every step possible to make sure that the air we breathe is clean and contributes to life.  This law is a positive step in that direction. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation into law and for her commitment to protecting our health and the health of our environment."   

Legislation S.4095b/A.518a prohibits the use and sale of coal tar-based pavement sealants that contain benzo(a)pyrene and other similar carcinogenic PAHs which are harmful to wildlife and have been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to increase cancer risks, particularly in children. Recent studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey have shown that while levels of most common environmental pollutants in waterways are consistently declining, levels of pollutants found in coal tar sealants are increasing. These carcinogens leach into soils and waterways through runoff, posing a toxic threat to these waterways and aquatic life. Chemicals associated with coal tar-based sealants that are known carcinogens, such as PAHs, have also been identified in house dust at alarming levels. Safer and more environmentally friendly pavement products, like asphalt-based pavement sealants, that contain PAHs in substantially lower concentrations (typically 50 ppm total PAH) are on the market and readily available. The prohibition on the sale of these products will begin Nov. 8, 2022. The ban on the use of pavement products containing coal tar starts Nov. 8, 2023. 

Senator James Sanders Jr. said, "This new law will protect residents of Southeast Queens and all New Yorkers, especially children, and wildlife from the toxic effects of coal tar."   

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal said, "After 10 long years of fighting, I am thrilled that my bill to ban coal tar-based sealants is finally law. Coal tar is bad for our health and our environment. It poses a grave danger to fish and aquatic wildlife, as well as children and pets, who are more likely to be exposed to chemicals in coal tar that settle near the ground. It's beyond time that New York follow the lead of other municipalities that have already abandoned coal tar in favor of safer alternatives, such as asphalt-based sealants. Thank you to the environmental organizations that fought alongside me for years to see this bill finally become law."   

Senior Manager of Government Affairs for Riverkeeper Jeremy Cherson said, "Thank you Governor Hochul for signing legislation championed by Assemblymember Rosenthal and Senator Sanders to ban the toxic and carcinogenic coal tar based pavement sealants. This harmful fossil-fuel based product is applied to driveways, parking lots, and even playgrounds across the state. These sealants enter our waterways, poisoning wildlife and tracking into people's homes, putting children at an elevated risk of toxic exposure. I thank our elected leaders for prioritizing clean water and public health by finally banning this toxic product and transitioning New York to less toxic, readily available alternatives."

Coal Tar Free America's Thomas Ennis said, "I am grateful for the persistence of the bill's sponsors and advocates. This bill represents the real, annual reduction of millions of pounds of toxins which affect our children and the environment. It truly is a benefit to all!"

Director of Clean and Healthy New York Bobbi Wilding said, "Coal tar is known to cause cancer. Coal tar sealants also release high amounts of toxic PAHs, which harm workers, and contaminate our environment. Simply put, these toxic chemicals don't belong on our driveways or roads. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for signing this bill into law, and thank you, bill sponsors Senator James Sanders, Jr. and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal for this important to step to eliminate harmful fossil-fuel based toxics from New York communities. This law will make New York cleaner and healthier." 

Conservation & Development Program Manager for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Caitlin Ferrante said, "Dirty fossil fuels and their toxic byproducts disproportionately impact New York's most disadvantaged communities, as inferior fuels and materials contribute to greater rates of asthma, cancers and neuropathies. By phasing out the burning of grade 6 heating oil and banning the use of coal tar in paving sealants, Governor Hochul and the Legislature are keeping two of the most persistent sources of pollution out of neighborhoods that have historically struggled with finding affordable, less toxic alternatives. This is a good day for clean air and water, and a good day for New York's communities."

View the Word Document HERE.



The Pavement Coatings Technology Council is doing everything it can to support pavement maintenance professionals nationwide throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our industry is comprised of several small businesses and today, many business owners face uncertainty surrounding the stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions and economic impact of this unprecedented event. When it comes to providing the most relevant resources for contractors and applicators, PCTC can help. Take a look through the following tools from organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and more to learn how your business can prepare and adapt.

PCTC is also encouraging professionals to establish a health policy to promote the well-being of customers and employees. The following fact sheet will help business owners craft a sound policy for reducing the spread of disease within their companies and communities.