From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published December 21, 2009 04:08 PM

Toxic Releases Decrease Nationwide

The USEPA released in early December the 2008 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report which provides information on toxic chemicals used and released by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies, and many other facilities across the nation to all media whether it is air, water or solid waste. The TRI is compiled from data submitted to EPA and the States by industry.

For the EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, the 2008 TRI data indicate a 9.1 percent decrease of 35.2 million pounds of on and off site chemical releases as compared with 2007. A total of 350 million pounds of chemicals were released during 2008 to the air, water or landfills by facilities in the mid-Atlantic region which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

When compared with the 2000 TRI data of 478.0 million pounds released, the 2008 figures represent a 27.0 percent reduction (128.0 million pounds) in toxic pollutants released by facilities in the mid-Atlantic region. This was accomplished by process changes, raw material substitution and pollution control equipment.

From a national perspective all toxic releases were 3.86 billion pounds in 2008 which was down from 4.12 billion pounds in 2007 and 4.32 billion in 2006.  This is a decrease of 10 % in just three years.

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The TRI provides communities with valuable knowledge and encourages facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through process design, source reduction, or other pollution prevention measures.

The current data include information on releases and other wastes from more than 650 chemicals and chemical compounds that companies are required to report under EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory Program. The data include chemicals that were released at the company’s facility and those transported to disposal facilities off site.

The lead and lead compound data for on and off-site releases show an increase from 5.7 million pounds in 2007 to 6.6 million pounds in 2008. Since 2002 there has been a decrease of 1.6 million pounds from 8.2 million pounds to 6.6 million pounds in 2008. The mercury and mercury compound data show an increase from 45.3 thousand pounds in 2007 to 63.1 thousand pounds in 2008. In 2002 mercury and mercury compound releases were 61.6 thousand pounds.

It is important to note that these chemical emissions are reported to EPA under the TRI and generally do not reflect illegal discharges of pollutants to the environment.

Also, for the first time, the EPA released this data in the same year it was reported (company reports were submitted in July 2009 for calendar year 2008).

TRI information is easily accessible online to the news media and the public at www.epa.gov/triexplorer.

For more detailed information on a specific facility, go to: www.epa.gov/enviro/html/tris/tris_query.html

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