Toxic Releases Up Overall, Despite Progress on Emissions

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By Erin Weaver

Toxic chemicals released into the air decreased from 2010 to 2011, but overall toxic chemicals released into the environment increased 8% over the same period, to 4.09 billion pounds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), concluding that toxic airborne emissions dropped by 8% and releases into water by 3%—but toxic land pollution increased 19%, mainly due to large metal mines, where shifts in the composition of ore being mined can changed the amount of hazardous waste created. TRI data has been collected from industries such as mining and manufacturing since 1998, and recent years have seen a decline in hazardous air pollutants such as hydrochloric acid and mercury—likely due to emissions controls at power plants and shifts to cleaner fuel sources, says EPA. For more information, see www.epa.gov/tri.

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March 1, 2013