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In the Pacific Southwest, Toxic Chemical Releases Decreased Slightly in 2021 According to EPA Data

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SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its 2021 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis, which shows that environmental releases of TRI chemicals from facilities nationwide covered by the program remained below pre-pandemic levels and releases in 2021 are 10% lower than 2012 releases, even with an 8% increase from 2020 to 2021. Additionally, in 2021, facilities managed 89% of their TRI chemical waste through preferred practices such as recycling, energy recovery and treatment, while reporting that they released 11% of their TRI chemical waste into the environment. In the Pacific Southwest, including the U.S. Pacific Island territories, the report shows a slight decrease in toxic chemical releases compared to 2020.

“EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory provides valuable information to communities across the Pacific Southwest and the Pacific Islands about potential hazards,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “We are prioritizing transparency with our toxics data to help communities, local, state and tribal governments with appropriate strategies for reducing pollution, especially in communities dealing with environmental justice challenges.”

In 2021, facilities in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Island territories reported managing 932 million pounds of production related waste and releasing 554 million pounds of TRI chemicals into the environment, a decrease in releases of less than 1% from 2020. In the Pacific Southwest, the metal mining sector, mostly in Nevada and Arizona, accounted for 84% of the TRI-reported chemical releases for 2021. Excluding metal mining, releases in the Pacific Southwest have decreased by 7.8% since 2012, with the primary metals (including smelting), hazardous waste management, and petroleum sectors reported the highest releases. Changes in the chemical composition of ore extracted at metal mines can result in large year-to-year changes in the amount of waste metal mines report to TRI.

The 2021 TRI National Analysis summarizes TRI chemical waste management activities, including releases, that occurred during calendar year 2021. More than 21,000 facilities submitted reports on 531 chemicals requiring TRI reporting that they released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. EPA, states and tribes receive TRI data from facilities in sectors such as manufacturing, mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste management.

The 2021 Analysis features updated visualizations and analytical tools to make data more useful and accessible to communities, including the option to view data by region and watershed. EPA has also updated demographic information in the “Where You Live” mapping tool and in the Chemical Profiles section. Readers can view facility locations with overlayed demographic data to identify potential exposure to TRI chemical releases in vulnerable communities. Community groups, policymakers, and other stakeholders can use this data, along with other environmental data, to better understand which communities may experience a disproportionate pollution burden and take action at the local level.

EPA is holding a public webinar on March 28, 2023, to give an overview of the 2021 TRI National Analysis. Register for the webinar.

To view the 2021 TRI National Analysis, including local data and analyses, visit

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Author: Region 09

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