A new study has found that toxins found in commonly used sealants pose a threat to the environment. Coal-tar sealants are typically applied to parking lots, asphalt roads, and driveways, and their toxins -- collectively known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) -- can wash into local streams, potentially harming wildlife.
The latest study is just one of several conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey over the years. In 2012, the organization found that newly spread sealant released PAHs into the air at a rate of 30,000 times greater than did unsealed pavement. In 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey performed a study of apartments in Austin, Texas, finding that the PAH levels in household dust were 25 times higher if parking lots nearby were sealed by coal-tar than if they were not sealed.
The most recent U.S. Geological Study was conducted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin between 2009 and 2011. Researchers analyzed sediment from roads, storm sewers, and the stream beds of three streams. They found that more than half of the sediment in storm sewers contained nine PAHs at levels high enough to be harmful to plants and animals. In the streams, 30% of the sediment samples contained "hazardous" concentrations of seven PAHs.
Manufacturers of coal-tar sealant insist that the findings are distorted and the coal-tar sealant is not harmful to humans. One claimed that in 60 years of producing the sealant, not one case of cancer had arisen. The manufacturer did not say whether any other health problems had resulted. Studies have found that PAHs, whether from sealant or other sources, have been linked to birth defects, including neural tube defects and a rare birth defect known as gastroschisis.
If your child has a birth defect that you believe is due to your exposure to PAHs while pregnant, you have the option of filing a product liability lawsuit and/or a toxic tort lawsuit. For a product liability suit, you would need to determine with certainty which manufactured good released the PAHs. PAHs are released from fossil fuels, as well as through tobacco smoke. You would need to determine that a specific product containing coal or oil was the offender, and if so, you would argue that the manufacturer had a duty to consumers (and the wider community) to create as safe a product as was reasonably possible. The manufacturer breached its duty by creating a product that released unreasonably dangerous amounts of PAHs. As a result of the breach, you were exposed to the toxins, and your child was born with a birth defect. If the PAHs were not released by a specific product, but rather by a fuel-burning process, you can file a toxic tort lawsuit against the perceived offender (often a power plant).
The birth defect attorneys at Oshman & Mirisola, LLP have successfully represented clients in birth defect lawsuits for more than 35 years. If your child suffers from a birth defect that you believe could be due to your being exposed to PAHs while pregnant, please contact us today by calling (800) 400-8182, or submit our online Contact Us form.