US developments in the regulation of chemicals, pesticides and occupational safety
The US Environmental Protection Agency released the 2006 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data back in February. The TRI, created under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), requires certain facilities to report annually on their chemical releases and other waste management activities to EPA and the states. In addition, the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 (PPA) mandates collection of data from these facilities on toxic chemicals treated on-site, recycled, and combusted for energy recovery. Close to 95 percent of TRI reporters submitted electronically.
Approximately 22,880 facilities reported on almost 650 toxic chemicals for 2006. Analyses are available on EPA’s website that provide context for understanding the full picture presented by the 2006 data. The data released and analyzed at a national level on February 21 were released on a facility-specific basis last September. Some of the findings of interest at the national level: Total disposal and other releases are down 2% from last year. Combined air releases of TRI chemicals are down 7%. Air releases of mercury are down 4%. Total disposal and other releases of mercury to all media combined increased 17%. From 2001-2006, total releases reported to TRI decreased by 24%. In 2001, persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals were reported for the first time and, therefore, the first year that includes data on all current TRI chemicals. A large part of the decrease reflects a change in reporting requirements for the metal mining sector that resulted from a court decision in 2003. Without the mining sector, total disposal and other releases decreased by about 8%.