Toxic Chemical Releases Have Declined 21% In 10 Years In USA

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Today, the U.S. EPA released its 2022 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis showing that environmental releases of TRI chemicals from facilities covered by the program were 21% lower in 2022 compared to 2013. This includes a 26% decrease in air releases. During this 10-year period, releases from manufacturing facilities decreased by 9% while the value added to the U.S. economy from manufacturing increased by 14%. While overall releases increased by 1% from 2021 to 2022, there was a 6.5% increase in the number of pollution prevention activities reported under the TRI Program compared to 2021.

The 2022 TRI National Analysis summarizes environmental releases of TRI chemicals, as well as how facilities managed their waste. In 2022, facilities reported managing 88.5% of their TRI chemical waste through preferred practices such as recycling, energy recovery and treatment, while releasing 11.5% of their TRI chemical waste into the environment.

“Communities have a right to know how facilities in their backyards might be exposing them to toxic chemicals,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “We are committed to sharing the information we collect from facilities openly and clearly, allowing people to find new ways to use this data to the benefit of us all.”

EPA, states and Tribes receive TRI data from facilities in sectors such as manufacturing, mining, hazardous waste management and electric utilities. More than 21,000 facilities submitted reports on 522 of the 827 chemicals and chemical categories for which TRI reporting is required. The remaining 305 chemicals either were not manufactured, processed or used by facilities required to report to TRI or were not manufactured, processed or used in amounts large enough to trigger reporting.

The 2022 TRI National Analysis features visualizations and analytical tools to make data more useful and accessible to communities. Readers can view data by state, Tribe, metropolitan area, EPA region and watershed using the “Where You Live” mapping tool. This tool also allows readers to view facility locations overlayed with demographic data to identify potential exposure to TRI chemical releases in communities, including overburdened communities. Community groups, policymakers and other stakeholders can use this information, along with other environmental data, to better understand which communities may be experiencing a disproportionate pollution burden and take action at the local level.

Additionally, the 2022 TRI National Analysis highlights trends and changes in waste management practices for specific sectors and chemicals in the Sector Profile and Chemical Profile sections. This year, the 2022 TRI National Analysis highlights the primary metals manufacturing sector alongside the standard profiles for electric utilities, chemical manufacturing and metal mining.

EPA is holding a public webinar on Thursday, April 4, 2024, at 2 p.m. ET to provide an overview of the 2022 TRI National Analysis. Register for the webinar.

View the 2022 TRI National Analysis, including local data.

PFAS Reporting

The TRI National Analysis includes reporting on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as required by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). A provision of the NDAA outlines criteria for additional PFAS to be automatically added for TRI reporting. For reporting year 2022, four PFAS met the criteria and were added to the reporting requirements for a total of 180 PFAS tracked by the TRI program. During 2022, 50 facilities managed 1.2 million pounds of these chemicals as waste, which represents an 8% decrease compared to 2021.

For reporting year 2024, TRI will no longer have a reporting exemption for facilities that use PFAS in small, or de minimis, concentrations as a result of EPA’s recently published final rule. This rule will improve the quality and quantity of publicly available data on PFAS, as many materials used at facilities contain PFAS in low concentrations. Facilities that make or use these products will no longer be able to rely on the de minimis exemption to avoid their responsibility to disclose PFAS releases and other waste management of these chemicals.

Pollution Prevention

Facilities implemented 3,589 total pollution prevention activities in 2022 with the most common being process and equipment modifications, followed by changes to operating practices and training. Through both existing programs and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA offers grant opportunities to state and Tribal technical assistance providers to help prevent pollution.

Industry professionals can view TRI reporting on pollution prevention to learn about best practices implemented at other facilities.

Key Expansions to TRI Reporting

Important expansions to TRI reporting went into effect for reporting year 2022. Some contract sterilization facilities, which are contracted to sterilize products or equipment for hospitals and other facilities, were required to report to TRI for the first time on their management of ethylene oxide and ethylene glycol as waste. These facilities managed 6.3 million pounds of ethylene oxide waste, nearly all of which was treated.

Reporting year 2022 was also the first year of expanded reporting for the natural gas processing sector. The 305 facilities in this sector that reported to TRI managed 115 million pounds of TRI chemicals in waste and disposed of 81% of TRI chemicals in underground injection wells.

Courtesy of EPA.


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