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Annual Toxics Release Inventory Conference 2012

I recently attended the 2012 Annual Toxics Release Inventory Conference in Washington, D.C. Why, you ask, did I attend such a conference? The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is part of the TOXNET suite of databases hosted by the National Library of Medicine, and TOXNET is one of the classes that the National Library of Medicine Training Center teaches. There were approximately 260 attendees, who primarily worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), either in D.C. or in one of the ten regional offices around the country.

EPCRA, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986, launched the creation of the Toxics Release Inventory. EPCRA was created to help communities and emergency planners prepare for situations that involve hazardous substances. TRI is the public view of the reporting required by industries that deal with any of the 682 chemicals named in EPCRA.

EPCRA has contributed to the reduction of accidents and exposures to hazardous chemicals by shining a light on what is being transported through communities. This, in turn, has led some industries to begin using less hazardous chemicals. EPCRA has been called the largest neighborhood watch program in the United States. TRI helps you identify the right questions to ask when you are concerned about your environment.

Who uses TRI data?
TRI is used by a very diverse audience that includes:
Community Planners
Fire Departments
Emergency Responders
State and local governments
Concerned Citizens
Public Health Administrators
Policy Analysts

In 2011, the EPA launched an initiative to partner with colleges and universities to encourage use and evaluation of TRI data and to work with local community groups to apply the data. One goal of this initiative is to improve reporting compliance by companies who are required to report and to promote pollution prevention. The EPA is creating a TRI Starter Kit to facilitate work in communities. This is due out in July 2012.

Just as an aside, gas mileage is the number one term entered into the EPA search box.

Additional Resources

Learn about EPCRA:
Environmental information for your area:
Search across multiple EPA databases:
Pollution in Your Community
Stewardship Action Council; a wide range of organizations committed to the responsible stewardship of earth’s resources.
Cleanups in My Community