EPA Releases Preliminary Data for 2020 Toxics Release Inventory Reporting

Aug. 3, 2021

The data includes the first ever reporting on PFAS 

The U.S. EPA published preliminary Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data about chemical releases, chemical waste management, and pollution prevention activities that took place during 2020 at nearly 21,000 federal and industrial facilities across the country.

According to the EPA news release, the preliminary data includes the first-ever reporting on per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) added to the TRI by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“TRI data enhance awareness and help support informed decision-making by companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public when it comes to chemical waste management practices at facilities in our communities,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Michal Freedhoff in the EPA press release. “The data collected, particularly on PFAS and ethylene oxide, are critical to inform and guide EPA’s commitment to protect people from the potential health impacts of these chemicals.”

The 2020 preliminary data are for substances included on the TRI list of chemicals, including quantities of chemicals released into the environment or managed as waste, as well as the pollution prevention activities initiated by individual facilities during 2020.

The dataset released Aug. 2 is raw data and does not contain any summary or trend analysis, nor has it been through the complete TRI data quality process, according to EPA. In light of this, EPA is conducting additional quality checks on the preliminary data to ensure accuracy, and so the 2020 preliminary data will be updated periodically with the necessary revisions.

The public can use the preliminary data to identify facilities that report to TRI and learn about the chemicals being managed. According to EPA, EPA plans to publish the updated TRI dataset fall 2021, which will help develop the 2020 TRI National Analysis. Ultimately, EPA hopes to publish the 2020 TRI National Analysis early 2022. 

The 2020 TRI preliminary data can be accessed here.

The data related to the PFAS added by the NDAA and received by the agency include 89 TRI reporting forms for 44 discrete PFAS chemicals filed by 38 individual facilities, according to EPA. According to the preliminary data, facilities managed over 700,000 pounds of production-related waste of PFAS during 2020.

EPA is conducting a review and data checks on this preliminary data and will examine: the types of facilities that reported and that did not report; the specific PFAS that were reported and not reported; the information reported, by whom, and the communities in which PFAS are being released or otherwise managed as waste.

According to the EPA news release, EPA will include a section in the 2020 TRI National Analysis that will provide detailed information on: the quantities of the PFAS released to the environment, recycled, burned for energy recovery or treated; source reduction activities implemented on PFAS; the facilities and sectors that disclosed this information; and the communities in which these activities took place.

EPA will also continue to add PFAS to the TRI per the requirements of the NDAA. 

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Cristina Tuser

Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).
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