We are the Safer Sealants Team, a group of 8th graders from Burleigh Manor Middle School in Howard County, Maryland, who are trying to put a limit on harmful chemicals in driveway sealants in Maryland. Our bill, the Safer Sealants Act of 2021, calls for a limit on the amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in driveway sealants. The bill bans the sale and use of any driveway sealant with PAH concentration above 0.1% by weight in Maryland. The Safer Sealants Act has already passed in the House of Delegates, and we need your support to help it pass in the Senate.
Why should we ban these harmful driveway sealants?
Many driveway sealants contain harmful chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are known carcinogens, meaning they are known to cause cancer. They are classified as the highest level of carcinogenicity by several health agencies:
- IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer): Group 1 carcinogen
- WHO (World Health Organization): Group 1 carcinogen
- EPA (Environmental Protection Agency): Group A carcinogen
- CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): Occupational carcinogen
- National Toxicology Program: known to cause cancer
- The European Union classifies road waste with 0.1% PAHs or higher as hazardous waste
PAHs can cause rashes, skin irritation, mutations, birth defects, and even death. Exposure to PAHs increases the risk of skin, lung, kidney, bladder, and stomach cancers in humans and animals.
PAHs are also extremely harmful to the environment. When benthic organisms are exposed to PAHs, they experience problems such as loss of consciousness, inability to reproduce, and death, which can disrupt entire food chains. PAHs are also toxic to fathead minnows and water fleas, and they may be linked to tumors in brown bullhead catfish in the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. Fish embryos that are exposed to PAHs can develop eyes with shorter retinas and smaller lenses, misshaped hearts, and abnormal heartbeats.
Are there any driveway sealants that are safe to use?
Yes! Asphalt and latex-based sealers generally do not have high concentrations of PAHs, and they are easy to get and priced about the same as other driveway sealants. Home Depot and Lowe’s have already stopped selling high PAH sealants because they know the dangers of using them.
What about driveway sealant manufacturers? Will they lose their jobs?
No. Although this bill does not allow manufacturers to sell high PAH driveway sealants in Maryland, they are still permitted to manufacture those sealants and sell them outside of Maryland. Maryland sealcoat manufacturers do a huge percentage of their business out of state, so they will be able to keep their employees on the job. We worked with someone from the sealcoat industry and agreed to include a tiered recognition award system to give manufacturers more incentive to lower the PAH concentration in their driveway sealants sold in Maryland. This helps their business because customers will be more inclined to use sealants with lower levels of PAHs.
What if the bill doesn’t pass in the Senate?
If our bill does not pass, it would mean that Marylanders, including our wildlife and the Chesapeake Bay, are at risk of being exposed to PAHs.
Share this petition with friends and family to get the word out and help us reach our goal! Thank you for your support!
Link to our bill (HB 0077): http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2021RS/bills/hb/hb0077T.pdf
Link to our website: https://safersealants.wordpress.com/home/
Link to our Annotated Works Cited: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y_cCFOVpPBjywPqefH_G1nYm4KLqOK9TBt9_Lddv040/edit?usp=sharing
If you have any questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com.