Industrial facilities can give themselves a pat on the back. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released 2014 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), only 16% of the 25 billion pounds of toxic chemical waste managed at the country’s industrial facilities was released to the air or water or placed in some type of land disposal. Sure, if you do the math, 16% of 25 billion pounds is not a small number, but most of these releases are subject to regulatory requirements intended to limit health impacts. Plus this number is 6% lower than the 2013 total, showing continued progress in waste management. If we were giving out trophies, the Most Improved Award would go to the air emissions category, which has decreased by 55% since 2003.
The EPA has been releasing TRIs for 30 years. The data in TRIs come from information submitted by facilities regulated under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Pollution Prevention Act. Facilities must report their toxic chemical releases for the prior year to EPA by July 1 of each year. Ann Dunkin, EPA’s Chief Information Officer, credits the TRI program with offering citizens “unprecedented access to information about what toxic chemicals are being used and released in their neighborhoods, and what companies are doing to prevent pollution.”
You won’t find the TRI in your local bookstore, so visit EPA’s website to review the 2014 TRI National Analysis.