EPA yesterday made available the most recent reporting on the amount of toxic chemicals released into the U.S. environment. According to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, the latest data, from the calendar year 2007, show an overall decrease of five percent in releases since 2006. Releases to air decreased seven percent and releases to water decreased five percent.
The report shows increases in the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals like lead, dioxin, mercury and PCBs. Overall PBTs releases increased one percent. The increases were primarily due to a handful of facilities, and most of the releases reported were not to the air or water.
Total disposal or other releases of mercury increased 38 percent, but air emissions of mercury were down three percent. The majority of mercury releases were reported by the mining industry.
PCB releases went up 40 percent. EPA banned the production of PCBs in the U.S. in 1979 and disposing of it safely to permitted, hazardous waste landfills is the final important step in removing it from use. Dioxin releases or disposal increased 11 percent. Lead releases increased by one percent. The majority of lead released was by the mining industry to land.
This year’s annual publication of the data includes 650 chemicals from 22,000 facilities. TRI reporting includes toxics managed in landfills and underground injection wells as well as those released into water and the air.