Facilities’ total releases of toxic chemicals decreased 12 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report. The decrease includes an 8 percent decline in total toxic air releases, primarily due to reductions in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions.
The 2012 data show that 3.63 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were either disposed or otherwise released into the environment through air, water and land. There was also a decline in releases of HAPs such as hydrochloric acid and mercury, which continues a long-term trend. Between 2011 and 2012, toxic releases into surface water decreased 3 percent and toxic releases to land decreased 16 percent.
This is the first year that TRI has collected data on hydrogen sulfide. While it was added to the TRI list of reportable toxic chemicals in a 1993 rulemaking, EPA issued an Administrative Stay in 1994 that deferred reporting while the agency completed further evaluation of the chemical. EPA lifted the stay in 2011. In 2012, 25.8 million pounds of hydrogen sulfide were reported to TRI, mainly in the form of releases to air from paper, petroleum and chemical manufacturing facilities.
This year’s TRI national analysis report includes new analyses and interactive maps for each US metropolitan and micropolitan area, new information about industry efforts to reduce pollution through green chemistry and other pollution prevention practices, and a new feature about chemical use in consumer products.
Facilities required to report non-trade secret TRI data to the EPA must file electronically as of Jan. 21, according to a final rule published in the Federal Register last summer.