Elevated Levels of Toxic Sediment Found in Local Lakes

Findings prompt consideration of ban on coal tar driveway sealants.


The discovery of high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Montgomery Village’s Lake Whetstone and Germantown’s Gunners Lake has prompted a local official to draft a bill banning coal-tar pitch products across the county.

Another official is cautioning against eating fish from the lakes.

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) discovered the higher than normal levels. County officials believe the increase is the result of runoff from pavement sealed with PAH products, according to a recent story in The Gazette.

County Councilman Craig Rice (D-District 2) of Germantown drafted the bill, which received a unanimous recommendation from the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment committee.

County Environmental Protection Director Bob Hoyt told the committee the PAH levels did not pose an immediate health risk to humans, but they do “present environmental problems and increase the cost of managing sediment after dredging.” 

Hoyt warned that people should not eat fish from the lakes, but that if the contaminates remain in the sediment, the risk is minimized.

The committee also heard the opinion of the Pavement Coatings Technology Council and Gem Seal Pavement Products company, which disagreed with the DEP’s findings.


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