EPA Issues 2008 Information on Toxic Chemical Releases

Dec. 8, 2009
Provides information on toxic chemicals used and released by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies and other facilities across nation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the “2008 Toxics Release Inventory” (TRI), which provides information on toxic chemicals used and released by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies and many other facilities across the nation. The TRI is compiled from data submitted to EPA and the states by industry.

In EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, the 2008 TRI data indicate a 9.1% decrease of 35.2 million lb of on and off site chemical releases as compared with 2007. A total of 350 million pounds of chemicals were released during 2008 to the air, water or landfills by facilities in the mid-Atlantic region which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

When compared with the 2000 TRI data of 478.0 million lb released, the 2008 figures represent a 27% reduction (128 million lb) in toxic pollutants released by facilities in the region. This was accomplished by process modifications, raw material substitution and pollution control equipment.

“The TRI is a valuable resource for citizens and government alike,” said Shawn Garvin, EPA mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “Communities can use these data to begin dialogues with local facilities to encourage them to reduce emissions or develop pollution prevention plans. Public interest groups use it to educate the public about toxic chemical emissions and potential risk. And EPA and the states use it to set priorities and allocate environmental protection resources to the most pressing problems.”

The TRI encourages facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction or pollution prevention measures.

The data include information on releases and other wastes from more than 650 chemicals and chemical compounds that companies are required to report under EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory Program. The data include chemicals that were released at the company’s facility and those transported to disposal facilities off site.

The lead and lead compound data for on and offsite releases show an increase from 5.7 million lb in 2007 to 6.6 million lb in 2008. Since 2002 there has been a decrease of 1.6 million lb from 8.2 million lb to 6.6 million lb in 2008. The mercury and mercury compound data show an increase from 45.3 thousand lb in 2007 to 63.1 thousand lb in 2008. In 2002 mercury and mercury compound releases were 61.6 thousand lb.

The reporting of data to the TRI is required under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, passed in 1986. The TRI provides the amount, location, and type of releases to the environment, whether a pollutant is emitted into the air, discharged into the water or released onto the land. It also includes information on waste shipped off site for disposal or further treatment.

It is important to note that these chemical emissions are reported to EPA under the TRI and generally do not reflect illegal discharges of pollutants to the environment.

Source: U.S. EPA

Image by Burnham RNG, courtesy twentytwo & brand.