Updated: Thursday, 08 Oct 2009, 6:22 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 08 Oct 2009, 5:36 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin Independent School District is trying to find out if their school playgrounds and parking lots pose a health risk.
According to AISD, any schools built before the City of Austin banned coal tar in 2006 likely have the potentially-hazardous pavement sealant.
"My first priority is my children, and their safety, and their health, but I think this is just one on many things that we deal with as parents that they find out later harm our children,” said Heidi Tenorio, an AISD parent.
Tenorio is not surprised to learn the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in coal tar can cause cancer. But, she is pleased to see the school district is looking into whether or not just playing on an area coated with the material could hurt her kids.
"There are concerns about students coming in contact with the material,” said Paul Turner, AISD facilities director.
The school district is hiring an independent environmental science firm to evaluate the dangers of coal tar at all of the campuses built before 2006. Coal tar sealants were banned in Austin after area waters had been contaminated in 2006.
"We traced it up to parking lots and found [those] parking lots with [that sealant] were draining into the [problem] in the Austin area,” said Mateo Scoggins, aquatic biologist for City of Austin.
AISD executive director of facilities, Paul Turner, said the company will go to the schools and assess the risk, and then let them know if any areas need to be resurfaced.
"We are moving ahead on it just as quickly as we can," said Turner.
Meanwhile, Tenorio said unless the firm finds a more concrete cause for concern, she is just happy her kids get a chance to exercise.
"At least they are getting fresh air and running around, and that’s more of something I appreciate than what might or might not be in the asphalt," said Tenorio.
At this point, the school district does not know how much the assessment or any recommended changes will cost.