May 23, 2002
(23 May, 2002 — Washington) Data from the 2000 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) right-to-know program were made available to the public today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The data indicates that 7.10 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released to the air, water, and land in 2000 from 23,484 facilities. But because of reporting requirements and EPA analysis, TRI data that is collected in a given year is not released until 18 months to two-and-a-half years later.

“While TRI has proven to be a powerful and popular environmental tool, it still takes far too long for the data to be made public,” said Environmental Defense economic development specialist Carol Andress. “That means residents don’t find out about pollution in their community until years after the fact. EPA should do everything in its power to get the data out in real time so that residents know the real risks they face today.”

For the first time, this year’s inventory includes persistent bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals which remain in the environment for long periods of time, are not readily destroyed or broken down, and accumulate in humans and other species. Data on mercury, a PBT chemical, is now reported at a lower level in recognition of its potential harm to humans and the environment. Mercury releases totaled 4.3 million pounds, much of which came from mining operations. Electrical utilities also contributed about 100,000 pounds of mercury to the air in 2000.

“Last year the Centers for Disease Control showed that the amount of mercury in the bodies of many women of child-bearing age was at or above levels of concern,” noted Dr. John Balbus, director of the environmental health program for Environmental Defense. “The TRI information released today will help us to understand where that mercury is coming from and to start taking steps to reduce it.”

For additional information and analysis of previous TRI data — as well as other sources of environmental pollution in communities — visit www.scorecard.org. The TRI right-to-know program is the only source of data from EPA that covers air, water, and land releases of more than 650 chemicals and chemical categories from industries including manufacturing, mining, electric utilities, hazardous waste treatment and other sources of pollution.