AUSTIN (KXAN) - The AustinIndependent School District is trying to find out if theirschool playgrounds and parking lots pose a health risk.
According to AISD, any schools built before the City ofAustin banned coal tar in 2006 likely have thepotentially-hazardous pavement sealant.
"My first priority is my children, and their safety, and theirhealth, but I think this is just one on many things that we dealwith as parents that they find out later harm our children,”said Heidi Tenorio, an AISD parent.
Tenorio is not surprised to learn the polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons found in coal tar can cause cancer. But,she is pleased to see the school district is looking into whetheror not just playing on an area coated with the material could hurther kids.
"There are concerns about students coming in contact with thematerial,” said Paul Turner, AISD facilities director.
The school district is hiring an independent environmentalscience firm to evaluate the dangers of coal tar at all of thecampuses built before 2006. Coal tar sealants were banned in Austinafter area waters had been contaminated in 2006.
"We traced it up to parking lots and found [those] parking lotswith [that sealant] were draining into the [problem] in the Austinarea,” said Mateo Scoggins, aquatic biologist for City ofAustin.
AISD executive director of facilities, Paul Turner, said thecompany will go to the schools and assess the risk, and then letthem know if any areas need to be resurfaced.
"We are moving ahead on it just as quickly as we can," saidTurner.
Meanwhile, Tenorio said unless the firm finds a more concretecause for concern, she is just happy her kids get a chance toexercise.
"At least they are getting fresh air and running around, andthat’s more of something I appreciate than what might ormight not be in the asphalt," said Tenorio.
At this point, the school district does not know how much theassessment or any recommended changes will cost.
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