EPA Reported Significant Drop in Toxic Chemical Releases in 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), January 14, 2021

According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program, chemical releases in the United States dropped by 9% in 2019 compared to the year prior. In the context of TRI, a “release” of a chemical generally refers to a chemical that is emitted to the air, discharged to water, or disposed of in some type of land disposal unit. The majority of TRI releases happen during routine production operations at facilities, and facilities are required to report the quantities of TRI-listed chemicals they released to the environment.

The following graph shows the change in total disposal or other releases of TRI chemicals over time. Many factors can affect trends in releases at facilities, including production rates, management practices, the composition of raw materials used, and the installation of control technologies.

From 2007 to 2019, the total disposal or other releases of TRI chemicals decreased by 19%. 

In 2019 the metal and mining sector accounted for 44% of releases (1.49 billion pounds), which were primarily in the form of on-site land disposal. The chart below shows a breakdown of TRI chemical releases by industry sector in 2019.

About TRI

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a resource for learning about toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities. TRI data support informed decision-making by communities, government agencies, companies, and others. Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) created the TRI Program.

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