EPA's Preliminary TRI Data for 2011 Show Increase in Releases From Prior Year

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued its most recent set of preliminary data on toxic chemical releases and transfers at industrial facilities nationwide, with the data showing an increase in releases for 2011.

The public can now access all of the data reported to the Toxics Release Inventory for Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011. The inventory provides information on toxic chemicals produced and used at industrial facilities and how they are managed, through the online tools Envirofacts and TRI Explorer.

Current data in TRI Explorer, dated Oct. 31, show that total on- and off-site releases increased from 3.8 billion pounds in 2010 to 4.1 billion pounds in 2011.

EPA usually releases an initial data set in July that is updated over several months as it goes through quality checks before the annual TRI National Analysis is released. The national analysis marks trends in national and local toxic releases, trends in chemicals managed by TRI facilities, and examines certain chemicals of interest, industry sectors, parent companies, and geographic areas.

Latest List Includes New Chemicals

The preliminary data for 2011 set included information from 20,927 facilities on 513 chemicals.

Sixteen of the chemicals, classified as carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program, were reported to TRI for the first time in 2011 (34 CRR 1145, 11/29/10).

The new chemicals are: 1-amino-2,4-dibromoanthraquinone; 2,2-bis(bromomethyl)-1,3-propanediol; furan; glycidol; isoprene; methyleugenol; 1,6-dinitropyrene; 1,8-dinitropyrene; 6-nitrochrysene; 4-nitropyrene; o-nitroanisole; nitromethane; phenolphthalein; tetrafluoroethylene, tetranitromethane; and vinyl fluoride.

Releases and transfers of reported carcinogens have doubled since 2008, while those of persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic compounds (PBTs) have risen by about one-third.

Manufacturing, metal mining, coal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities are among the 26 industries that must report to TRI. EPA is considering adding reporting requirements for iron ore mining, phosphate mining, solid waste combustors and incinerators, large dry cleaners, petroleum bulk storage, and steam generation from coal or oil (36 CRR 75, 1/16/12).

The metal mining industry, which usually accounts for the largest share of toxics reported by industries, became an even larger contributor to the inventory in 2011, reaching 46 percent of total releases, according to the latest data. In 2008, metal mining made up 30 percent of total releases.

Data Ready for Public Before Analysis

For states, environmental groups, academics, and companies reporting to TRI that are interested in seeing the raw data, timeliness is essential, Sean Moulton, director of federal information policy for OMB Watch, told BNA Nov. 1.

“The closer you can get data from the [toxics-releasing] activities, the better,” Moulton said.

EPA expects to release a National Analysis for 2011 TRI data in December.

By Andrea Vittorio  

EPA's Toxics Release Inventory reporting tool Envirofacts is available at http://www.epa.gov/enviro/facts/tri/search.html.

EPA's TRI Explorer is available at http://iaspub.epa.gov/triexplorer/tri_release.chemical.