Proposed regulations for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in sealant products: consultation document


The Government of Canada (GC) has prepared this consultation document to complement the Proposed regulations for coal tar-based sealant products consultation document, published in December 2021, to inform stakeholders and solicit feedback on the key elements to regulate Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in pavement and roofing sealant products in addition to coal tars and their distillates. In soliciting input from stakeholders, we posted a copy of this PAH consultation document on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) Environmental Registry website, on the Consulting with Canadians website and distributed it by email to known stakeholders, including representatives from other federal departments; provincial, territorial and municipal governments; indigenous groups; industry; environmental groups and public advocacy groups.

The Government of Canada is committed to providing interested or affected parties with the opportunity to take part in consultations at all stages of the regulatory development process. All parties may comment in writing, by mail, or email to the addresses provided in the Contact Section of this document.

All written responses received during the consultation period will be considered, prior to drafting and publishing the proposed instrument in Canada Gazette, Part I. A summary of comments received will also be published concurrently with the proposed instrument. We welcome the distribution of this document to other potential stakeholders.


During the consultations on the Proposed Regulations for Coal Tar-Based Sealant Products, comments were received on possible replacement products to coal tar-based sealant products such as ethylene cracker residue (ECR, which contains high levels of PAHs).

The term polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) refers to the compounds made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms grouped into rings containing five or six carbon atoms. PAHs constitute a class of chemical products that include about 100 individual compounds.

Based on the information available, an assessment, published in 1994, concluded that PAHs, as a class, are toxic under CEPA, resulting in the addition of PAHs to Schedule 1 of CEPA. This assessment was based on 13 compounds selected from a preliminary list that was developed, based on the available data, which included individual compounds representative of the diversity of chemical, environmental, and toxicological properties of PAHs. As a result of the assessment, PAHs are considered to be entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that are having a harmful effect on the environment. In addition, based on available data, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[j]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene are entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that may constitute a danger to human life or health. More information on PAHs can be found on the Toxic Substances List: PAHs page.

Risk management objectives

Risk management objectives set quantitative or qualitative targets to be achieved by the implementation of risk management regulations, instruments and tools for a given substance or substances. In this case, the proposed risk management objective is to reduce concentrations of PAHs in pavement and roofing sealants and reduce their release to levels that are protective of the environment and are protective of human health. The objective also includes preventing regrettable substitution following the prohibition of coal-tar based sealant products in Canada.

Regulatory development

Currently, risk management instruments for PAHs do not address potential concerns from pavement and roofing sealants with high levels of PAHs, such as those that can come from industrial waste products, (e.g. ECR based pavement sealants). Therefore, to achieve the risk management objectives noted above, Regulations are being considered under section 93 of CEPA that would prohibit the import and manufacture of pavement and roofing sealant products with a combined PAH content above 1000 ppm in Canada. This approach will eliminate the risk of substitution with an alternative that may also pose a risk to human health and the environment following the prohibition of coal tar based sealant products.

The proposed Regulations will be published in Canada Gazette, Part I and be followed by a public comment period. They will cover both coal tars and PAHs in pavement and roofing sealant products.


The regulations would apply to the manufacture or import of any pavement and roofing sealant product with a total PAH content above 1000 ppm, other than Coal Tar-Based Sealant Products, as they are proposed to be prohibited.


All manufactured and imported pavement and roofing sealant products with PAH content above 1000 ppm are expected to be covered by these Regulations. Comments on the usage of products that should be considered for exemption can be provided for products for which there are no technically and economically viable alternatives. These comments must be accompanied with clear evidence demonstrating why there are no technically and economically viable alternatives to these usages.

Exemptions for goods in transit for export will be considered for these Regulations as these products are unlikely to pose environmental or health risks in Canada given transport safety regulations.

Coming into force

The Regulations would come into force after a transition period following their publication in Canada Gazette, part II. The Government of Canada is considering a transition period of 6 months to allow a suitable transition time away from pavement and roofing sealants with PAH content above 1000 ppm.

All other elements

All other elements, such as labelling, testing and accreditation requirements, reporting, record keeping, administration and compliance verification and economic and other considerations are expected to be the same as those outlined in the consultation document for the Proposed regulations for coal tar-based sealant products.


To assist with the development of the proposed Regulations, we are soliciting information from stakeholders. Below are questions and areas of interest for which input is being sought. Information should be submitted as per the instructions contained in the ‘Contact information’ section below.

Next steps

Industry and other interested stakeholders are invited to submit comments on the content of this consultation document or to provide other information that would help inform decision-making. Stakeholders are also invited to submit information on how they wish to receive information from the Government of Canada on existing and new regulations.

Please submit comments prior to October 22, 2022 to one of the contact points provided below.

Comments will be considered and we may engage in bilateral discussions with stakeholders as part of this consultation process. It is expected that the proposed Regulations will be published in Part I of the Canada Gazette with a comment period, in the summer of 2023. The final Regulations would then be published in Canada Gazette Part II in the Fall of 2024.

Contact information

By mail:

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Place Vincent Massey, 9th Floor
351 St. Joseph Boulevard
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H3

By Email:

*Please include “Consultation - Products Containing Coal Tars” in the subject line of your email or document

By phone: 819-938-4483 / 1-888-391-3426

Annex: Actions in other jurisdictions

United States

Many regions in the USA have put in place a ban on pavement sealants with high PAH contents. This includes, for example, the City of Austin in Texas, the District of Columbia, Montgomery County in Maryland, the City of Charlotte in North Carolina, as well as over 30 communities in Michigan and Wisconsin, which have instated 1000 ppm limits on PAHs.

As well, some areas have adopted a higher PAH limit of 10 000 ppm for pavement sealants, including the State of Maine, the State of New York, and the Village of Elm Grove in Wisconsin. New York State currently has a Senate Bill being considered to reduce the PAH limit to 1000 ppm in pavement sealant products.

Furthermore, the District of Columbia, with support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is currently developing a certification program for PAHs in pavement sealants. In this certification program, a pavement sealant would receive a “gold standard” certification only if it has PAH levels below 1,000 ppm.

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