the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published preliminary Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) 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. The preliminary data released today includes the first-ever reporting on per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) added to the TRI by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“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,” said 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.”
General Information on the 2020 Preliminary Data
The 2020 preliminary data are for substances included on the TRI list of chemicals. 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 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.
The dataset released today is raw data and does not contain any summary or trend analysis. While the preliminary data have not yet been through the complete TRI data quality process, the software facilities used to submit these data include many automated quality checks that help prevent facilities from making common mistakes. EPA is now conducting additional quality checks on the preliminary data. The 2020 preliminary data will be updated periodically to reflect revisions to previously submitted data and late submissions of TRI reporting forms.
The public can use the preliminary data to identify facilities that report to TRI (for example, to locate facilities in a given ZIP code) and learn which chemicals that facilities manage and in what quantities.
EPA plans to publish the updated TRI dataset this fall, which will be used to develop the 2020 TRI National Analysis. EPA expects to publish the 2020 TRI National Analysis in early 2022.
PFAS-Related Information from the 2020 Preliminary Data
At this time, the data related to the PFAS added by the NDAA and received by the agency include a total of 89 TRI reporting forms for 44 discrete PFAS chemicals filed by 38 individual facilities. The preliminary data indicate facilities managed over 700,000 pounds of production-related waste of PFAS during 2020.
EPA is conducting a review and data checks on the preliminary data. As EPA reviews the data, the agency will examine: the types of facilities that reported and that did not report, the specific PFAS that were reported and not reported, the information reported, by whom, and the communities in which PFAS are being released or otherwise managed as waste. The agency will seek to learn to what extent the current TRI reporting requirements regarding PFAS were followed and are adequate in providing the public with important information on the waste management practices of PFAS.
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. 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.
EPA will include a section in the 2020 TRI National Analysis (to be published in early 2022) that will provide more detailed information, including 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.
EPA will continue to add PFAS to the TRI per the requirements of the NDAA. 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.
Thanks to the passage of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 which created EPA’s TRI Program, the public has greater awareness of how chemicals are being managed in their communities. Further, TRI data are a valuable dataset used by researchers and decisionmakers across the world. Today, nearly 21,000 facilities report annually on the quantities of more than 760 chemicals they release into the environment or otherwise manage as waste to the TRI Program. TRI data are reported by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste management. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires facilities to submit information on pollution prevention and other waste management activities of TRI chemicals.