The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its annual national analysis of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The TRI includes information on toxic chemical disposals and other releases into the air, land and water, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities in neighborhoods across the U.S.
Total releases (including disposals) for the latest reporting year, 2010, are higher than the previous two years but lower than 2007 and prior year totals. Many of the releases from TRI facilities are regulated under various EPA programs and requirements designed to limit human and environmental harm.
The 2010 TRI data show that 3.93 billion lbs of toxic chemicals were released into the environment nationwide, a 16% increase from 2009. The increase is mainly due to changes in the metal mining sector, which typically involves large facilities handling large volumes of material. In this sector, even a small change in the chemical composition of the ore being mined-which EPA understands is one of the reasons for the increase in total reported releases-may lead to big changes in the amount of toxic chemicals reported nationally. Several other sectors also reported increases in toxic releases in 2010, including the chemical and primary metals industries.
Total air releases decreased 6% since 2009, continuing a trend seen over the past several years. Releases into surface water increased 9% and releases into land increased 28% since 2009, again due primarily to the metal mining sector.
The EPA has added new information on facility efforts to reduce pollution to this year’s TRI national analysis.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/tri