Coal Tar Ban a Win for People, Water, & Wildlife

In March, a significant milestone for our local watershed health was achieved as the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of coal tar sealant products, a move which will safeguard the health of people, waterways, and wildlife from the harmful effects of this toxic and carcinogenic pollutant. Scheduled to take effect in September 2024, the ordinance represents a significant stride toward a cleaner and healthier local ecology for all.

Friends of the Chicago River joined forces with several of our partners, including the Sierra Club, Illinois Environmental Council, and Friends of the Forest Preserves, to advocate for this vital ban. Coal tar poses a serious threat to aquatic life, causing severe biological defects and mortality when it seeps into our precious waterways.

“In a time where more and more local aquatic animals are becoming threatened and endangered each year, it is crucial to take action to eliminate such an egregious source of their demise,” said Tessa Murray, watershed policy manager for Friends of the Chicago River, during public testimony about the ordinance. “The World Wildlife Fund reports that fresh water species have been declining at an alarming average of 83%. We need to do everything in our power to protect them.”

The ban passed by a vote of 13-0-2 (two abstentions). Friends commends Commissioner Maggie Trevor for championing this ordinance, as well as all Cook County Board of Commissioners who supported this critical measure. For further information, please visit: Cook County Ordinance Details.