EPA Report Shows Decrease in Toxic Chemicals

(Washington, D.C. - April 12, 2006) The amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment decreased four percent from 2003 to 2004 according to the Environmental Protections Agency's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) released today.

"Today's report demonstrates that economic growth and effective environmental protection can go hand-in-hand," said Linda Travers, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Environmental Information. "We are encouraged to see a continued reduction in the overall amount of toxic chemicals being released into the environment."

Significant decreases were seen in some of the most toxic chemicals from 2003-2004.

· Dioxin and dioxin compounds, which decreased by 58 percent,
· mercury and mercury compounds, which were cut by 16 percent and
· polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) went down 92 percent.

Industries were instrumental in getting the data to the public quickly and more efficiently. More than 23,000 facilities reported for calendar year 2004 and ninety percent used electronic reporting, which streamlined the process significantly. Facility-specific data was released last November and the full national data released today.

EPA's 2004 TRI reporting includes toxics managed in landfills and underground injection wells in addition to those released into water and air and releases or other disposals of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals. PBT chemicals include dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, PCBs, mercury and mercury compounds, lead and lead compounds, and several pesticides. The amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment has declined 45 percent since 1998. It is important to review the full data in context, since in many cases changes from one year to the next are less important than longer term trends.

TRI tracks the chemicals and industrial sectors specified by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 and its amendments. The Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) of 1990 also mandates that TRI reports must include data on toxic chemicals treated on-site, recycled, and burned for energy recovery. Together, these laws require facilities in certain industries to report annually on releases, disposal and other waste management activities related to these chemicals.

More in Operations