Toxics Release Inventory

Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reports are required under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). TRI data identifies chemicals manufactured and used at certain businesses or facilities. It tracks accidental and routine releases of those chemicals to land, air, and water and how waste is managed or disposed.  

The EPA compiles the national TRI data each year and makes the information available through several data access tools.

What is a release?

Releases in TRI are classified as either "on-site" or "off-site."

  • On-site release: When a facility emits or disposes a toxic chemical to land, air, or water.
  • Off-site release: When a facility transfers a toxic chemical off site for disposal. This includes metals released to wastewater that goes to a publicly-owned treatment facility.

How is this data used?

TRI is used to better understand:

  • Potential risks from chemical releases.
  • Ways to improve safety.
  • Ways to protect the environment.

Environmental justice

TRI data provides communities and researchers critical information about potential environmental hazards and pollution. For instance, studies that used TRI data have shown that low-income populations and communities of color across the nation are more likely to live near industrial facilities than other communities. 

For information about our work regarding environmental justice and the relationship to TRI, contact our Environmental Justice coordinator Millie Piazza.

TRI data over time

The data serves as an indicator of environmental progress over time. Federal, state, and local governments have used TRI to:

  • Set priorities.
  • Measure progress.
  • Target areas of special and immediate concern.

For example, TRI data is used to measure pollution trends from specific industries. It shows whether industrial pollution is going up or down and helps identify if reduction targets are being met.

TRI is one indicator used to track progress toward reducing wastes and toxics.

TRI data does not show if or to what degree the public is exposed to listed chemicals. Exposure to a chemical depends on many factors that fall outside of the scope of TRI data.
TRI chemicals vary widely in toxicity. While it may seem like a large release of a chemical is more serious than a small one, it depends on the nature of the chemical. For example, dioxins are highly toxic in small amounts.
TRI data can only provide information about toxic chemicals included on the TRI chemical list for specific industry sectors.

Examples of releases that TRI doesn't include: 
  • Emissions from vehicles
  • Pesticides used in agriculture
  • Toxic chemicals found in personal care products
  • Household pharmaceuticals that are disposed down the drain or placed in landfills
  • Pollution released by service businesses such as dry cleaners or auto service stations
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