Saturday, February 18, 2012

Exposed: PAHs in pavement poise significant health risk to public

            Good Day Humboldt County!

  Our travels today, are taking us down a polluted path that we all unknowingly walk on every day. Beware when you get out of your car in a store parking lot, or your own driveway. It was probably sprayed with a common deadly sealant still available in many stores!

It’s waste from steel mills that should have been safely incinerated instead of spread on the ground we all walk on. It’s another tale of collusion between government and corporate interests to the determent of the American public.

The stuff that’s been spread on our parking lots, and other surfaces, has the known cancer-causing  agent “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,” or PAHs in it.

The thing that bothers me, is that this is not breaking news. People have known about problems that go with the use of these sealants containing PAHs for years. That means you, and I, and the rest of the population, have been blissfully exposing ourselves to bad things. Worse, these toxic sealants are still legal in most states.

Now, after four new major studies, people are getting concerned. Warning: the more you read the more angry you’re going to get. Informational links are provided after the following news snippet:   

“When you think of pollution, you might picture an industrial center like Camden, N.J., or Jersey City. But new research shows that when it comes to a potent class of cancer-causing toxic chemicals, many American parking lots are a lot worse.

New studies paint an increasingly alarming picture – particularly for young children – about how these chemicals are being spread across big swaths of American cities and suburbs by what may seem an unlikely source – a type of asphalt sealer. These sealants are derived from an industrial waste, coal tar.

Four new studies announced this week further implicate coal tar-based asphalt sealants as likely health risks.  The creosote-like material typically is sprayed onto parking lots and driveways in an effort to preserve the asphalt. It also gives the pavement a dark black coloring that many people find attractive.

Coal tar is a byproduct of the steelmaking industry. In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared that it would not be classified as a hazardous waste, even though it met the characteristics of one, because it could be recycled for uses that include coating asphalt. That meant steel mills didn’t have to pay for costly landfilling or incineration of the waste.

The new research, published in peer-reviewed science journals, focuses on a class of chemicals found in coal tar and known as “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,” or PAHs. Previously, researchers believed that people’s exposure to PAHs came primarily through food, which contains trace amounts produced primarily from smoking food or cooking it at high temperatures in practices such as grilling, roasting, and frying. PAHS are produced when any organic matter burns.” (Read whole story here)

Here’s Some More related Links

Study sees parking lot dust as a cancer risk

State bans coal tar sealants in big win for foes

The four studies announced this week appeared in the science journals Environmental Science and Technology, Chemosphere, Atmospheric Environmentand  Environmental Pollution.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

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