The annual report says in 2014, 84 percent of the 25 billion pounds of toxic chemical waste managed at the nation’s industrial facilities was not released into the environment due to the use of preferred waste management practices like recycling, energy recovery and treatment.
The remaining 16 percent was released to the air, water or placed in some type of land disposal. Most of these releases are subject to a variety of regulatory requirements designed to limit human and environmental harm.
Air pollution releases from industrial facilities decreased by 4 percent from 2013 to 2014, mainly due to decreases from chemical manufacturing facilities and electric utilities, the EPA says. Air releases have decreased 55 percent since 2003.
TRI data are submitted annually to EPA, states, and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste. Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), facilities must report their toxic chemical releases for the prior year to the EPA by July 1 of each year.
The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 also requires facilities to submit information on pollution prevention and other waste management activities related to TRI chemicals.
This year, the TRI report is available on its own website, giving users access to key information including analyses and interactive maps showing data at a state, county, city, and zip code level. Other new features of this year’s analysis include integrated demographic information, profiles of federal facilities and the automotive manufacturing sector, and a discussion forum where users can share feedback about the report.
Last month the EPA finalized a rule to add 1-bromopropane, a toxic chemical that the EPA says may cause cancer, to the TRI chemical list. This chemical is used as a solvent, degreaser and adhesive, and often as a chemical intermediate in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, flavors and fragrances.
Photo Credit: industrial plant emissions via Shutterstock