The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has joined other members of the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup — a voluntary alliance of government organizations, conservation groups and private companies working to enhance water quality — in committing to reduce the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that reach the area’s waterways.
These pollutants are present on parking lots and asphalt surfaces treated with refined coal-tar sealants, the most commonly available types of sealants, and are often washed in to waterways during a rainfall. Water-quality tests of Salt Creek and the upper DuPage River have detected PAHs at concentrations that are not considered a danger to humans but are potentially harmful to wildlife. Under the approved memorandum of understanding, workgroup members commit to use alternative products that do not emit PAHs.
“All of the Chicagoland region’s stormwater eventually makes its way to rivers and streams, and pollutants become buried in sediment layers where they have long-term negative impacts on wildlife and the environment,” says John “Ole” Oldenburg, the District’s director of the Office of Natural Resources.
Safer sealants are comparable in cost to coal-tar based products, so member organizations don’t anticipate significant cost increases associated with the new agreement.
“We’re also hoping that by creating greater demand for the safer products at a wholesale level, they’ll become more widely available to individual consumers,” adds Oldenburg.
To learn more about the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup and the research that helps improve the watershed’s health, visit drscw.org.
Established in 1915, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County manages over 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year, over 4.3 million visitors enjoy the District’s 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers, and scores of scheduled programs and events. To learn more, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org.