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Archive for the ‘SIS’ Category

2015 TRI Data Added to TOXMAP

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

TOXMAP beta now includes the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) 2015 data.

What is TRI?
TRI is a database from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that tracks the disposal and waste management of a legislated list of toxic chemicals. TRI is a mandatory federal reporting program.

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

Why was TRI Created?
The TRI program is one section of a larger law (EPCRA) that was passed in response to two specific events that raised public concern about local preparedness for chemical emergencies and the availability of information about hazardous substances that might be found in our neighborhoods.

Where it all began: Love Canal
The first event was Love Canal; whose story began in the early 1900s. There was actually a man named Mr. Love, who had the idea to build a canal to harness inexpensive hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls for industrial development around the turn of the 20th century. He eventually abandoned his plan and sold the land to Hooker Chemical Company. After using the site to dump 21,000 tons of industrial waste over an 11-year period, the company sold the land to the Niagara Falls Board of Education. Eventually, the area near the covered landfill was developed, including construction of an elementary school, as well as many residential properties.

Beginning in the 1970s, local residents noticed foul odors and chemical residues and experienced increased rates of cancer and other health problems.  In 1978 and 1980, President Carter declared two federal environmental emergencies for the site, and about 950 families were evacuated from their homes within a 10-square-block area surrounding the landfill.

The severity of contamination at the Love Canal site in New York led to the creation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or the Superfund Law) of 1980.

CERCLA created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. Among other things, CERCLA established a trust fund to provide for cleanup when no responsible party could be identified. This trust fund is commonly known as Superfund.

CERCLA also created the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is the list of national clean-up priorities throughout the United States and its territories. Love Canal was the first site to be placed on the NPL in 1983.

The second event of concern occurred in Bhopal, India. In December of 1984, a cloud of extremely toxic methyl isocyanate gas escaped from the Union Carbide Chemical plant located in Bhopal. Thousands of people died in what is widely considered to be the worst industrial disaster in history.

In 1986, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was passed in the United States in response to concerns about Bhopal and Love Canal.

Section 313 of EPCRA created the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and lists the types of facilities and industries that must complete an annual toxic chemical release form for approximately 690 chemicals.

TRI data is pulled in from the EPA and is included in the TOXNET suite of databases at the National Library of Medicine (TRI and TOXMAP). TOXNET has its own version of the TRI interface. Data is always at least one year behind in TRI because industries have one year past the year-end to submit their data. Then the data has to be formatted so it “works” in the database.

TRI data can be mapped onto NLM’s TOXMAP interface. TOXMAP, among other things, is a graphic representation of TRI data.

If you would like to know more about the history of Love Canal here is a 22 minute video:

Read more about CERCLA:

Read more about EPCRA:

TRI-Listed chemicals:

NLM Releases TOXinvaders, a Mobile Game about Chemistry, the Environment and Health

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

The Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) launched TOXinvaders, an environmental health and toxicology game for iPhone and iPad, available from the Apple Store (

TOXinvaders supports middle school science concepts pertaining to chemistry, environment and health. It can serve as an engaging classroom or homework activity for middle and high school students, as well as an entertaining learning activity for gaming aficionados of all ages. In the classroom environment, TOXinvaders works best as a supplement to NLM Tox Town, Environmental Health Student Portal, TOXMAP, and ChemIDplus web sites.


The game consists of four fast-paced levels, in which a launcher is used to annihilate toxic chemicals falling from the sky and earn protective shield points by capturing “good chemicals.” To move on to the next level, players must take a brief quiz about its chemicals in order to unlock the next one. These dynamically generated tests provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about environmental health and toxicology, either from the game’s chemical information sheet, or from NLM Web sites. Quiz questions and answers can also serve as a departure point for classroom discussions, as well as Tox Town, TOXMAP, and Environmental Health Student Portal activities and experiments.

An early holiday gift from the National Library of Medicine!

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

SIS app Bohr Thru You may know that the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has a number of resources related to environmental health and toxicology, including the suite of databases which are included as a part of TOXNET. NLM also has a number of resources on these topics which are specifically designed for the K-12 audience and the teachers and parents who work with these students. NLM’s Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) is pleased to announce the launch of three interactive, educational iOS apps for middle and high school students studying biology, chemistry and environmental health.

These FREE, readily accessible resources assist students with grasping concepts such as DNA base pairing, the Bohr model of the atom and environmental conservation. Two of the iOS apps, Bohr Thru and Base Chase, were developed in collaboration with a high school educator and are easily usable within the biology/chemistry classroom setting. The third game, Run4Green, is a fun and informative learning tool that reinforces concepts relating to environmental conservation and can be used as an engagement extension activity.

Each of the three iOS games is iPhone, iPad and iPod touch compatible, and can be freely downloaded (with no in-game purchases) by visiting the iTunes App Store. Bohr Thru is a Candy Crush style game which requires players to collect and organize protons, neutrons, and electrons in order to form the Bohr Model of the first 18 elements in the Periodic Table. Base Chase allows players to grab bases of DNA in order to complete unique DNA stands for a variety of animals. This game compliments the GeneEd website. Run4Green is especially designed for grades 5-8 and reinforces environmental topics such as greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energies, and green product purchases.

Laboratories can be dangerous

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) offers a guide to web resources in laboratory safety with links to information for clinical, academic and school labs. It includes resources for handling chemical, biological, and nanotechnology safely.

The guide also links to repositories of health and safety videos and includes pre-formulated searches of NLM resources.


Check it out at


Particulate Matter and your Health

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Do you work with young audiences? Here’s a video (intended for middle schoolers) from the Specialized Information Services division of NLM about particulate matter, its sources and the impact on our health. The animated video defines particulate matter, where it is found, how it is formed, and the potential risk to human health. 

You can find other resources intended for young audiences by following this link: