Environmental Health & Safety

Toxic Releases Decline More Than Half Since 2005

By Chemical Processing Staff

Jan 23, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis reportedly shows releases of toxic chemicals into the air fell 56% from 2005-2015 at industrial facilities submitting data to the TRI program.

"Today’s report shows action by EPA, state and tribal regulators and the regulated community has helped dramatically lower toxic air emissions over the past 10 years,” says Jim Jones, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The TRI report provides citizens access to information about what toxic chemicals are being released in their neighborhoods and what companies are doing to prevent pollution.”

The report shows an 8% decrease from 2014 to 2015 at facilities reporting to the program contributed to this 10-year decline. Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, toluene and mercury were among chemicals with significantly lower air releases at TRI-covered facilities. Medical professionals have associated these toxic air pollutants with health effects that include damage to developing nervous systems and respiratory irritation, according to the EPA.

Combined hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid air releases fell more than 566 million pounds, mercury more than 76,000 pounds and toluene more than 32 million pounds at TRI-covered facilities. Coal- and oil-fired electric utilities accounted for more than 90% of nationwide reductions in air releases of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and mercury from 2005 to 2015 in facilities reporting to the program, according to the EPA. Reasons for the reductions include a shift from coal to other fuel sources, the installation of control technologies and implementation of environmental regulations.

In 2015, of the nearly 26 billion pounds of total chemical waste managed at TRI-covered industrial facilities (excluding metal mines), approximately 92% was not released into the environment due to the use of preferred waste management practices such as recycling, energy recovery and treatment, according to the EPA.

For more information, visit: www.epa.gov/tri/p2