The U.S. EPA released their annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report for 2008. This marks the first time USEPA has released its annual report one year after the reporting has been completed. The TRI reports on all legal toxic releases into the environment by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies, and all other facilities to the public and media.
The TRI is compiled from data submitted by State, Federal, and Industry. The good news is that toxic releases were lower than the previous year. In 2008 all releases totaled 3.86 billion pounds, and in 2007, all releases totaled in at 4.32 billion. A 10 percent reduction from 07 to 08. Since the year 2000, toxic releases into the environment went down 27%. The not so good news is that lead and mercury discharges went up from 07 to 08. Twenty thousand pounds of additional mercury entered the environment over the previous year, with an increase of 1.6 million pounds of lead from 07 to 08. If you would like to take the time to read the whole report, it can be found at www.epa.gov/triexplorer. Good news is all relative. If you are an industry stalwart that need to report this kind of data to the government, you can raise the flag, and say that you’ve lowered your toxic discharges into the environment. If you are a regular kinda of citizen, fish, wild life, etc., then I think you would fall into the mortified category, that these toxins are still being released into the environment. USEPA is suppose to protect its citizens and eco systems found in the U.S. They have made efforts to do so, but I think we need to really examine just what is tolerable and not to society. Granted, of the 650 chemicals covered in the TRI, many are needed for a industrialized society to exist. But, there must be alternatives, or ways to recycle these compounds back into the useful stream, versus discharging them into the environment. Can’t we get to zero emissions? We’re trying to get there with vehicles, why not everything else? The TRI report just reminds us of how much work there is left to do to get there.