The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported this week that thousands of industrial facilities nationwide trimmed their emissions of toxic chemicals by 56 percent between 2005 and 2015.
The agency's annual Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis also showed that emissions of those substances dropped by 8 percent between 2014 and 2015 alone.
The TRI program, which includes nearly 22,000 facilities in manufacturing, mining, electric utilities, commercial hazardous waste management and other industrial sectors, requires plants to detail their toxic chemical releases each year, along with information about pollution prevention and other waste management procedures.
The latest report, according to the EPA, showed "significantly lower air releases" of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, mercury and toluene.
The first three chemicals were slashed due almost entirely to actions by coal- and oil-fired utilities, including the implementation of environmental regulations, new emission control techniques and the shift from coal to rival fuel sources.
The agency noted that those pollutants were linked to respiratory irritation, nervous system development damage and other health issues.
"Today’s report shows action by EPA, state and tribal regulators and the regulated community has helped dramatically lower toxic air emissions over the past 10 years,” said Jim Jones, the EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
The EPA also said that more than 90 percent of total chemical waste in 2015 was treated, recycled, recovered or otherwise prevented from release into the environment, although that total did not include the metal mining segment, "which presents only limited opportunities for pollution prevention."