Toxins in the driveway
January 15, 2011|By Michael Hawthorne, Tribune reporter
In a study released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on Dec. 1 and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, researchers have identified a new source of pollution. This time, the pollution is being caused by something closer to home — the runoff from a sealant commonly painted on asphalt to extend its useful life, researchers say.
Playgrounds, parking lots and driveways in many communities are coated every spring and summer with coal tar, a toxic byproduct of steelmaking that contains high levels of chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems.
Nearly two decades after industry pressured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exempt coal tar-based pavement sealants from anti-pollution laws, a growing number of government and academic studies are questioning the safety of the widely used products. Research shows that the tar steadily wears off and crumbles into contaminated dust that is tracked into houses and washed into lakes.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey found that driveway dust was contaminated with extremely high levels of benzo(a)pyrene, one of the most toxic chemicals in coal tar. The amount was 5,300 times higher than the level that triggers an EPA Superfund cleanup at polluted industrial sites.
About 85 million gallons of coal tar-based sealants are sold in the United States each year, according to industry estimates. There are no comprehensive figures on where it is applied, but in Lake in the Hills,IL researchers determined that 89 percent of the driveways are covered in coal tar.
PAHs are rising in urban lakes
Coal tar-based sealant contains a high level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Property owners now must use asphalt emulsion-based sealant, which have much smaller concentrations of PAHs.
In the 1990s, scientists noticed that levels of PAHs were rising in urban lakes, but spent years trying to discover where they were coming from.
In 2005, scientists working in Austin, Texas found stunningly high levels of PAHs in sediment from drainage ditches. That discovery led them to scrutinize parking lots nearby.
That Texas-based survey found that small particles of the seal coat are worn off of the asphalt surface relatively rapidly, especially in areas of high traffic, and are transported from parking lots and driveways to streams and lakes by storm runoff.
“The coating is brittle,” Van Metre said. “As cars drive on it, it breaks up into little pieces.”
A new study from the University of California, San Francisco reveals that 100 percent of expectant mothers (sample size = 268) are contaminated with highly toxic synthetic chemicals. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, concluded, “Certain PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, PFCs, phenols, PBDEs, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate were detected in 99 to 100% of pregnant women.”
These chemicals are known to exhibit various harmful effects on human biology, covering everything from neurological and infertility problems to cancer and hormonal disorders. Many of the chemicals found in these women have been banned for not just years, but decades.
Ten powerful ways to protect yourself from toxic chemicals
If you want to protect yourself from these toxic chemicals, here’s how to do it:
From Natural News site
#1) Don’t put anything on your skin you wouldn’t eat! Avoid all mainstream consumer skin care, cosmetics and personal care products, period! Need soap? Try natural, organic brands.
#2) Don’t eat foods made with chemicals you can’t pronounce. Read the ingredients labels. If the list of ingredients is too long and complex to figure out, it’s probably made more with chemicals than actual food.
#3) Don’t poison your body with over-the-counter drugs or prescription pharmaceuticals. If you do need to use medication for short-term emergency use, be sure to detoxify your liver afterwards.
#4) Detox your liver, kidneys and colon at least once a year. You can do this with a juice fast combined with detox supplements.
#5) Drink more water. Most people simply don’t consume enough water to effectively remove toxins from their bodies.
#6) Don’t fill your home or apartment with products that off-gas toxic chemicals: Air fresheners, perfumed candles, particle board furniture, carpets(install hardwood floors), glues, etc.
#7) Don’t cook on non-stick cookware. These are the worst! Invest in quality copper-clad stainless steel pans and use those. They’ll last a lifetime and they don’t contaminate your body with chemicals.
#8) Buy certified organic products if you can. In the USA, the USDA Organic Seal is a trusted seal that genuinely indicates organic quality (both in foods and personal care products). Don’t be fooled by brand names that use the word “organics” in their name but aren’t really organic. For example, “Bob’s Organics” may or may not actually be organic. The Organic Consumers Association (www.OrganicConsumers.org) can keep you posted on what’s what.
#9) Get the cancer out of your laundry!
Stop washing your clothes in toxic brand-name laundry detergents, and stop using brand-name fabric softeners or dryer sheets. Do you have any idea what chemicals are used in those products?