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August 09, 2021
2020 TRI preliminary data release

On July 29, 2021, the EPA released its preliminary Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data, which marked the first time per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were included in the report. The TRI contains data “about chemical releases, chemical waste management, and pollution prevention activities that took place during 2020 at nearly 21,000 federal and industrial facilities across the country,” according to the EPA.

The data released is in raw form and does not yet contain any analysis on trends or summaries. The software utilized by the EPA contains many built-in quality checks to prevent facilities from making common reporting mistakes. “EPA is now conducting additional quality checks on the preliminary data,” the EPA says. “The 2020 preliminary data will be updated periodically to reflect revisions to previously submitted data and late submissions of TRI reporting forms.”

The preliminary data can be utilized by the public to identify facilities completing TRI reporting and the types and quantities of chemicals these facilities manage.

Industry sectors subject to TRI reporting include manufacturing, mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste management.

The data reported is for substances on the TRI chemical list. “These data were reported by facilities in certain industry sectors, including federal facilities, that manufactured, processed, or otherwise used the TRI-listed chemicals above certain quantities during 2020,” the EPA adds. “The data include quantities of such chemicals that were released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. The data also include the pollution prevention activities initiated by individual facilities during 2020.”

PFAS reporting

The data was gathered from 89 TRI reporting forms for “44 discrete PFAS chemicals filed by 38 individual facilities” and indicated that these facilities managed more than 700,000 pounds of PFAS production-related waste in 2020.

“In analyzing the PFAS reporting, EPA will also include a focused and more rapid effort to provide insights regarding the seemingly limited scope of the reporting, including the types and number of facilities reporting and PFAS reported,” according to the EPA. “Depending upon its findings, EPA will take action as appropriate. This could include compliance assistance, enforcement, or proposing modifications to the TRI reporting requirements for PFAS.”

The updated TRI dataset is planned for publication later this fall, and the EPA expects to publish the 2020 TRI National Analysis in early 2022.

A discussion on “the quantities of the PFAS that were released to the environment, recycled, burned for energy recovery or treated; source reduction activities implemented on PFAS; the facilities and sectors that disclosed this information; and the communities in which these activities took place” will be included in the National Analysis when it is released.

How is this data used?

“TRI data enhance awareness and help support informed decision-making by companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public when it comes to chemical waste management practices at facilities in our communities,” says EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Michal Freedhoff. “The data collected, particularly on PFAS and ethylene oxide, are critical to inform and guide EPA’s commitment to protect people from the potential health impacts of these chemicals.”

“EPA will continue to add PFAS to the TRI per the requirements of the NDAA (2020 National Defense Authorization Act),” adds the EPA. “For TRI Reporting Year 2021 (reporting forms due by July 1, 2022), the NDAA automatically added three PFAS to the TRI list because they are now subject to a significant new use rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The TRI data collected will help inform the agency’s efforts under Administrator Regan’s EPA Council on PFAS to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by these chemicals.”

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