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Earth Day is Coming…April 22, 2014

The first Earth Day was in 1970, the same year that the EPA was signed into law. Of the many databases offered by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) TOXNET®  is a suite of databases that cover toxicology data, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases.

What is TOXNET? A Little History.

The Toxicology Information Program (TIP) was established in 1967 at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in response to recommendations made in the 1966 report “Handling of Toxicological Information,” prepared by the President’s Science Advisory Committee.

The objectives of TIP were to: (1) create automated toxicology data banks, and (2) provide toxicology information and data services. In the mid-1990’s, the mission of TIP was expanded to include environmental health and thus the Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) evolved.

TEHIP is responsible for the Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET), an integrated system of toxicology and environmental health databases that are available free of charge on the web.

The National Library of Medicine Training Center (NTC) offers online training about the TOXNET databases called Discovering TOXNET. One of the databases included in TOXNET is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). TRI data is collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

What is TRI?

TRI tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. TRI includes data about chemical releases, waste transfers, recycling and pollution prevention. TRI includes information that can help you learn about toxic chemical releases from certain facilities in your neighborhood.

Why was TRI created?

In December of 1984 there was a massive toxic gas release in Bhopal, India from a U.S. owned company. Thousands of people died on that day and thousands of deaths (approximately 8000) have been attributed to that accident. Later that same year, in West Virginia, there was another chemical release. While the W.V. release was on a much smaller scale than the release in India, people across the U.S. began to ask questions about preparedness and information about toxic releases from facilities in their towns.

How can TRI Help Communities?

  • TRI can identify which chemicals are released by TRI facilities
  • TRI can track increases and reductions of toxic chemical releases

What is a TRI Facility?

TRI facilities include manufacturing, coal/oil electricity generation, mining facilities, hazardous waste management and federal facilities. Companies in these industries must report their use of a TRI chemical if they manufacture, process or use more than a certain amount of a TRI chemical per year.

What is a TRI Chemical?

In general chemicals covered by the TRI Program are those that cause one or more of the following:

  • Cancer or other chronic human health effects
  • Significant adverse acute human health effects
  • Significant adverse environmental effects

The TRI Program currently covers 682 chemicals and chemical categories.

Read more about TRI at: http://www2.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program