What Is The Toxic Release Inventory?
TRI was established under the Federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. Facilities report their TRI information annually to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to the state in which they are located. Reports must be submitted by July 1 of the following year.
Who Must Report to TRI?
A facility must report to TRI if it:
- Falls within federally specified industrial classes such as: manufacturing, mining, or federally owned facilities;
- Has 10 or more full-time employees; and
- Manufactures or processes more than 25,000 pounds, or uses more than 10,000 pounds, of any listed chemical during the calendar year.
What Type of Information Must Be Reported?
Among other things, a facility must report the:
- Amount of each listed chemical released to the air, water, or soil;
- Amount of each listed chemical recycled, treated or disposed of;
- Source reduction activities undertaken to prevent pollution;
- Name and telephone number of a person to contact for more information.
What Types of Chemicals Are Required To Be Reported?
Over 600 chemicals and chemical categories are included in the reporting list. Chemicals are included on the list based upon acute or chronic human health or environmental effects.
What Are The Benefits and Uses of TRI Data?
TRI data can be used in a variety of ways:
- The public can use TRI data to identify potential concerns;
- Governments can use TRI data to compare facilities, identify hot spots, evaluate environmental programs, and establish regulatory priorities;
- Industry can use TRI data to establish reduction targets and document reduction progress.
What Are The Limitations of The Data?
Not All Toxic Releases/Transfers Are Reported
Only a small portion of industries releasing chemicals into the environment are required by EPA to submit the TRI report. The list of chemicals is also not inclusive of all chemicals known to have significant public health or environmental impact.
Reported Release/Transfer Totals Usually Are Based On Estimations Only
No special monitoring is required to calculate emission or transfer totals. TRI, therefore, allows emission estimations based upon mass balance calculations, published emission factors or other approaches.
Smaller Release Totals Are Reported As Ranges, Not Exact Numbers
If a chemical release or transfer estimate was below 1000 pounds, companies were allowed to report ranges of 1-10, 11-499, and 500-999 pounds. In such cases, staff entered the midpoint of the range in the State database. These estimations may, therefore, be above or below the actual figure.
TRI Reports Releases, Not Exposures
Release estimates alone are not sufficient to determine exposure, risk of exposure, or calculate potential adverse health or environmental effects.
TRI Statewide Totals Cannot Be Compared From Year to Year
The TRI list of chemicals requiring reporting, and methods required to estimate emissions, have changed significantly through the nine year history of TRI reporting. Because of changes in chemical usage, facilities may be required to submit TRI reports for some years and not others. These changes make accurate multiyear comparisons of statewide release or transfer totals difficult.