Toxics Released by Industry Up 16 Percent from 2009
On January 5, 2012, the US EPA released its 2010 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, its annual report displaying the agency's interpretation of the most recent TRI data, which outlines national and local trends in toxic chemical disposal into the environment. The report provides the American public with vital information about toxic materials in their communities.
Now in its 25th year, the TRI program helps citizens, emergency planners, public health officials, and others protect human health and the environment by providing them with toxic chemical release and other waste management data. The information can be used in decision-making processes that affect public safety and welfare.
Facilities must report their toxic chemical releases to the EPA by July 1st of each year under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 also requires information on waste management activities related to TRI chemicals.
The report indicates that in 2010, TRI facilities generated more than 21.82 billion pounds of toxic chemicals in production-related wastes. Of this total, nearly 17.85 billiion pounds were recycled, burned for energy recovery, or treated; the remaining 3.97 billion pounds were disposed of or otherwise released into the environment.
The data reflects on- and off-site or other releases into land, air or water, or releases injected underground. For 2010, the total releases of TRI chemicals into the environment are higher than the previous two years, but are lower than 2007 and prior-year totals. The 3.93¹ billion pounds of toxic chemicals released nationwide represents a 16% increase from 2009.
- Total air releases decreased 6%,
- Releases into surface water increased 9%, and
- Releases onto or into land increased 28% since 2009.
Most of the releases (41%) came from the Metal Mining sector, and is reflective of changes in the industry. A small change in the chemical composition of ore being mined may lead to large changes in toxic releases. The sector contributed 1,622.6 million pounds in 2010 versus 1,271.7 million in 2009, a 27.5% increase. Since 2001, however, the Metal Mining sector decreased TRI chemical release levels by 29%, or 652 million pounds. In both years, ±98% of the disposal was onto land.
Running second was the Electric Utility sector, which contributed 18% of TRI chemical releases in 2010 up from 12% in 2009, although the actual poundage was down: 702.4 million pounds in 2010 versus 801.6 million in 2009. In 2010, 88% was released into the air and land versus 91% in 2009.
In all, 7 of the 26 industry sectors originated 92% of all disposal or other releases of TRI chemicals.
|Hazardous Waste Management
The EPA has made improvements to this year’s TRI report by adding new information on facility efforts to reduce pollution and by considering whether economic factors could have affected the TRI data. With this report and EPA’s Web-based TRI tools, the public has access to information about toxic chemical releases that occur locally.
¹Note that the two metrics related to disposal or other releases are different, i.e. 3.97 and 3.93. One key source of the difference is that adjustments are made to the aggregated quantities to ensure that transfers of TRI chemicals sent off site to other TRI facilities are not counted twice.