I hadn’t heard of this one until I started researching.
Coal Tar in personal care products is the same as the stuff they use in pavement sealant, just in lower doses. It is a known human carcinogen, with industrial coal tar recently being banned in Washington after it started turning up in ordinary house dust as well as in streams, lakes and other waterways at levels that concern government researchers. It is banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union. It is also a photosensitizer, making skin more at risk for burning and overexposure in sunlight.
As for its use in personal care products, it gets a big whopping 10 on the hazard scale that EWG uses. Coal tar used to be found in dark-colored hair dyes , but has since been removed from those products (though what they use now may not be any better) since it caused allergic reactions in some people (the cancer thing is just icing). It is, however, still being used in dandruff shampoo such as Neutrogena T-Gel Shampoo and some psoriasis creams.
What to do?
Though it is not one of those products found everywhere it is found in some pretty popular brands that people buy, especially men. There is no definitive evidence (since it hasn’t been studied enough) that using personal products with Coal tar lead to increased cancer risk, but why would you want to slather your head or body with something that has been banned for use on a road?
Switch the coal tar products for those without it, and let your loved ones know as well.