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EPA Analysis Shows Reduction in 2009 Toxic Chemical Releases

January 3, 2011
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the release of its annual national analysis of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), providing information on toxic chemical disposals and releases into the air, land, and water, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities across the U.S. In 2009, 3.37 billion lbs of toxic chemicals were released into the environment, a 12% decrease from 2008.

This year, the EPA is offering additional information to make the TRI data more meaningful and accessible to all communities. The TRI analysis now highlights toxic disposals and releases to large aquatic ecosystems, selected urban communities and tribal lands. In addition, portions of the analysis are available in Spanish for the first time.

The analysis, which includes data on approximately 650 chemicals from more than 20,000 facilities, found that total releases to air decreased 20% since 2008, while releases to surface water decreased 18%. Releases to land decreased 4% since 2008.

The analysis shows decreases in the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals including lead, dioxin, and mercury. Total disposal or other releases of mercury decreased 3% since 2008, while total disposal or other releases of both dioxin and lead decreased by 18%. The analysis also shows a 7% decrease in the number of facilities reporting to TRI from the previous year, continuing a trend from the past few years. Some of this decline may be attributed to the economic downturn; however, EPA plans to investigate why some facilities reported in 2008 but not 2009.

The EPA added 16 chemicals to the TRI list of reportable chemicals in November. These chemicals are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens, and represent the largest chemical expansion of the program in a decade. Data on the new TRI chemicals will be reported by facilities on July 1, 2012.

For additional details, visit www.epa.gov/tri.

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