SAN FRANCISCO -- Toxic chemicals managed, treated or released into the environment from facilities operating in Arizona increased in 2010 when compared to 2009, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The data comes from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, commonly referred to as TRI. It’s one of the EPA’s largest publicly available databases, providing communities valuable information on more than 650 toxic chemicals that are managed or released by various industries. The chemical information in the inventory is calculated by industrial facilities and reported to the EPA, as required by Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act..
“Twenty-five years ago, Congress passed the law that gave communities the ‘Right-To-Know’ about potential toxic hazards in their area,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The annual toxics report helps residents and local governments make informed decisions, and by working together with businesses, they can reduce chemical use.”
Total releases include toxic chemicals discharged by facilities to air, water, land, and underground, and the amount transferred off-site for disposal. Pollution controls apply to many of the reported releases. Reporting facilities must comply with environmental standards set by local, state and federal agencies.
Release data alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or to calculate potential risks to human health and the environment. TRI data, in conjunction with other information, such as the toxicity of the chemical, the release medium (e.g., air), and site-specific conditions, may be used in evaluating exposures that may result from releases of toxic chemicals.
Data from 2010 in Arizona shows:
- In 2010, 271 facilities reported a total of 80 million pounds of toxic chemical releases. Arizona’s total reported on-site and off-site releases increased 31% (19 million pounds), when compared to 2009 data. Most of this is due to on-site land releases increased 32% (18 million pounds) since 2009.
- The number of facilities increased from 255 to 271 facilities
- 13 million pounds of total (on-site and off-site) releases of PBT chemicals were reported. This is an increase of 4 million pounds or 40% since 2009.
Annual Toxics Release Inventory reporting began in 1988 after the enactment of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. The 25th anniversary of the act provides information to the public on annual toxic chemical releases reported by certain industrial and federal facilities. The TRI does not include data on toxic emissions from cars and trucks, nor from the majority of non-industrial sources, such as agriculture. In 2000, TRI expanded to include persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals, or PBTs, at ranges from 0.1 grams to 100 pounds. PBT pollutants are toxic chemicals that remain in the environment and food chain, posing risks to human health and ecosystems.
TRI Explorer is a tool that you can use to see the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data. It allows you to look at data by state, county, or zip code; by chemical; or by industry. It provides maps that you can click on to find TRI facilities, chemicals and industries in a particular area.
National TRI Findings:
The 2010 TRI data show that 3.93 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment nationwide, a 16 percent 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. Several other sectors also reported increases in toxic releases in 2010, including the chemical and primary metals industries. Releases from electric utilities decreased between 2009 and 2010. Total air releases decreased 6 percent since 2009, continuing a trend seen over the past several years. Releases to surface water increased 9 percent and releases to land increased 28 percent since 2009, again due primarily to the metal mining sector.
EPA has improved this year’s TRI National Analysis report by adding new information on facility efforts to reduce pollution and by considering whether economic factors could have affected the TRI data. With this report and EPA’s Web-based TRI tools, citizens can access information about the toxic chemical disposals and releases into the air, water, and land that occur locally. Finally, EPA’s first mobile application for accessing TRI data, myRTK, is now available in Spanish, as are expanded Spanish translations of National Analysis documents and Web pages.
Please visit: http://www.epa.gov/tri/myrtk/spanish/index.htm
For more on the TRI program including additional city, county and facility information, please visit the EPA’s Web sites: http://www.epa.gov/tri, http://www.epa.gov/triexplorer and http://www.epa.gov/enviro.
For more information on the PBT Chemicals Program, please visit the EPA’s Web site at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/pbt