TRI Reporting for Lead and Lead Compounds

The recently enacted Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements for lead involve nearly every ceramic and glass decorating company in the U.S., as well as producers of lead-containing products, with far-reaching effects in terms of record-keeping, reporting, use of lead and other related issues.

A meeting sponsored by the Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators (SGCD) in Baltimore, Md., June 22, 2001, examined the effects of the new requirements, as well as compliance regulations and reporting requirements. In attendance were members of industry already versed in compliance and reporting, as well as those who were being newly affected with the inclusion of lead in March 2001. A presentation by Bill Reilly of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made up the morning session, and a panel of industry experts, an update on an industry lawsuit against the EPA and a roundtable discussion followed in the afternoon. Following is a brief overview of some of the topics presented during the meeting.

Figure 1. The TRI qualification process.
Source: SGCD meeting workbook, Baltimore, Md., June 22, 2001.

Qualification and Reporting

The TRI reporting process starts with basic qualification using a model that evaluates the company’s SIC code (from a list of covered codes); the number of employees (10 or more based on full- and part-time status for a total of 20,000 reportable hours, job function and other criteria—for example, a contractor who is constructing a building for you is included in the count); and whether lead is manufactured, processed or otherwise used (MPOU). It is a progressive qualification system—as each question is answered affirmatively, the company continues through the qualification process, while if questions are answered negatively, the company is relieved of the responsibility of reporting (see Figure 1). If the company still qualifies for reporting after the MPOU question, then the threshold limit is calculated as the final qualifier. If the reporting thresholds are met, qualifying companies must file an EPA form R annually by July 1 for the previous year (i.e., for the year 2001, the report is due in July 2002). This process is repeated annually.

Figure 2. The TRI reporting process.
Source: SGCD meeting workbook, Baltimore, Md., June 22, 2001.
After the qualification process is complete, the complex reporting process is initiated by:
  • identifying the lead and lead compounds as they are MPOU,
  • determining the quantity of the chemicals and how they are MPOU,
  • identifying total releases and off-site transfers,
  • identifying waste management practices,
  • identifying pollution prevention activities, and
  • completing form R for state and federal EPA agencies (see Figure 2).
A tremendous amount of record-keeping is required even if a company does not have to file a form R. For instance, time cards, contractor invoices, facility entry and exit logs must all be tracked to verify the total reportable hours. For those who do qualify to file a form R, distinctions must be made between a main facility and an auxiliary facility (such as warehousing or shipping), and whether each facility has to complete its own form R. Even if a company has a new owner, that new owner is still responsible for reporting the previous owner’s MPOU lead or lead-containing products. And beyond that, it is the responsibility of the owner to know whether the materials you purchase contain lead or a lead compound, even if the supplier does not advise you. It appears that both frits and glass qualify as “lead compounds,” although it should be noted that only materials actually used need to be reported. A company can bring in and store as much as it wants—only when the material is MPOU does it need to go on the report.

Add to this the need to measure the amount discharged into water bodies, streams/creeks, treated on site, sent off site, recycled and brought back for reuse, and the amount of record keeping quickly becomes staggering. Even some exemptions—such as lab use—are now in danger of losing their exempt status. Also, threshold determination quantities and reporting quantities are not the same—one is used to qualify, the other to report based on actual releases (rather than MPOU amounts). Clearly, compliance is not easy, even with the best of intentions.

Because of the demands of keeping up with documentation and reporting, several companies have devoted staff entirely to handling TRI reporting (for lead and other included chemicals) with titles such as Environmental Manager. An automated form R is available to assist with this process, but users report that some of the bugs are still being worked out of it.

A redesigned EPA form R, called TRI Me (Try Me), is currently in a beta test with selected industries. This form includes Q&A assistance and prompts from the help database, and is intended to further assist companies with the complex reporting process.

Navigating the Qualification and Reporting Process

Those in the industry who have been involved with TRI reporting for other chemicals recommend the following:
  • Keep detailed and diligent records.
  • Hire a consultant for the first year’s reporting to set up spreadsheets to track use and release and take you through the reporting process.
  • Send your appointed staff member(s) to training offered by the EPA or trade organizations.
  • Use all available resources, including the EPA’s website, the automated reporting form R, manuals and CDs offered by the EPA, networking with others who have already been through the process, trade organizations, etc. (see sidebar for a list of resources).
  • Be absolutely thorough in completing the forms (leave no blanks) or the forms will be returned to you. Returned forms will trigger a review of other forms you may have already completed (or should have completed but didn’t know about) for the EPA.
  • Do not fail to complete form R. The fines and review process will be worse than the work to complete the form. (Note: even those who are reporting zero use must complete the form R if they are a qualifying company—that means that those companies still must keep detailed records so they can prove they didn’t have any release.)
  • Explore opportunities for lead use reduction, including changing to non-lead or non-lead containing compounds, improving your processes to have less waste, etc. Form R requires you to report these efforts, with a goal for all companies of reducing use, reducing waste or improving the handling of that waste.

Legal Issues

A lawsuit was filed last year against the EPA by a group of associations in an effort to strike at the heart of the EPA TRI regulation for lead. The suit contends, among other things, that the PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic) values designed for synthetic organic chemicals are now being assigned to non-organics, such as lead, and that those values do not apply. Additionally, the suit contends that the lead ruling bypassed the EPA’s scientific advisory board, and that a thorough science review should be undertaken. The lawsuit seeks a stay on the TRI ruling for lead, a review of lead as a PBT listed material—including a science review—and resetting of levels if regulation is needed.

PBT-listed materials are going to be subject to taxes, phase-outs, reporting and further control and regulation, so removing lead and lead compounds from the PBT list has important ramifications beyond eliminating TRI reporting for lead. For example, in Minnesota, the Minnesota Listed Waste Council (listing lead, cadmium, etc. as PBTs) has a pending bill for a surcharge on all PBTs. And the European Union is asking its member countries to harmonize their PBTs and come up with one list. If lead appears on that final list, it will be a PBT for all EU countries, and any resulting legislation will affect those countries.

Even if the lawsuit is successful, it is still likely that companies will have to comply and report lead for the year 2001, so if you have not begun the process you should. The most likely outcome of a successful suit would mean that implementation would be stayed, revised during a new review by the EPA and then reissued at new levels and with new standards. However, there is no guarantee of success, and depending on when the lawsuit would be settled and when the stay issued, yet another year could pass before the situation changes.

For Further Reading

Calderwood, James A., “EPA Lead Reporting,” Ceramic Industry, June 2001, p. 28.
Bopp, Andrew, “EPA Allows TRI Pb Rule to Take Effect,” Ceramic Industry, June 2001, p. 57.


RCRA, Superfund and EPCRA Hotline – (800) 424-9346
(Provides regulatory assistance, information on available EPA publications and information on EPA electronic resources.)

TRI Homepage –
(Includes the TRI “Envirofacts Warehouse” – data compiled from 1999.)

TRI User Support Service – (202) 260-1531

Waste Reduction Resource Center – (800) 476-8686

Small business technical assistance (for waste reduction ideas):

Federal Facility – Los Alamos Natl. Labs, Sue Fenimore, (506) 665-5376

Federal Contractor – Allied Signal Aerospace – James Tira, (826) 997-2563

8. SGCD (conference sponsor) – Andrew Bopp, 4340 East-West Highway, Suite 200, Bethesda MD 20814; (301) 951-3933; e-mail;

To request a book and CD detailing the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (EPA 745-B-01-001), contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2844), Washington, DC 20460; (800) 490-9198 or (513) 490-8190; fax (513) 489-8695; e-mail; or visit


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