Understanding Sealcoating’s Regulatory Cluster

By Jeff Winke

Doing good. Being good. That’s pretty much what every contractor wants to follow. In a sense, being law abiding corporate citizens.

When it comes to asphalt sealcoating standards, one can defer to Anne P. LeHuray, Ph.D., of the Pavement Coatings Technology Council (PCTC) located in Alexandria, Va. for insights. The PCTC network of manufacturers and applicators are dedicated to extending the life of asphalt through maintaining highest quality manufacturing and application standards.

LeHuray cautions that nothing is simple. There are no legal standards per se for sealcoating. So, what regulations govern asphalt sealcoating?
“Application of pavement products are, for the most part, governed by state and local regulations,” stated LeHuray. “For sealcoat, these mostly cover materials and methods. Many, if not most, regulations refer to and rely on standards, guidelines, and/or specifications set by organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International or ASTM) or government agencies such as, at the federal level, the Federal Highway Administration. For sealcoating, there are a series of current ASTM standards for refined tar-based sealcoat. For asphalt-based sealcoat, an ASTM standard is under development.

“If you want to look into occupational safety and health, there are lots of OSHA regulations that have to be followed by sealcoat manufacturers and there are OSHA regulations governing contractor/applicator operations. And if you want to get into environmental regulations, again there are many nooks and crannies there that should be followed.”

There are regulations governing the use, handling, storage, and disposal of asphalt sealcoat material.

“Regulations covering TSD (Treatment, Storage, Disposal) are covered, at the federal level, by the RCRA (Resource Conservation & Recovery Act),” LeHuray said. “RCRA TSD requirements apply to materials designated as ‘hazardous waste.’ At the federal level, sealcoat products are not designated hazardous wastes, although some states have their own Haz Waste lists which should be consulted.”

When categorizing hazardous waste, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) breaks it down by four characteristics:

  1. ignitability, or something flammable
  2. corrosivity, or something that can rust or decompose
  3. reactivity, or something explosive
  4. toxicity, or something poisonous.

Further, the EPA defines hazardous waste as “a chemical composition or other properties that make it capable of causing illness, death, or some other harm to humans and other life forms when mismanaged or released into the environment.” With that definition in mind, there are some pretty harsh chili peppers that could meet the definition!

In conclusion, regulations governing asphalt sealcoating can originate from all levels of government–local, state, and federal.

“Enforcement of regulations are different at each level of government and for each regulation,” LeHuray said. “This is a big topic. I’m not aware of anything comprehensive that covers everything–or even something close to comprehensive in explaining regulatory imperatives.”

The best advice for doing good and being good as far as asphalt sealcoating goes is to never assume and do due diligence on the regs at all governmental levels to make certain of compliance in the particular market where work is completed.

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through jeff_winke@yahoo.com