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Archive for the ‘TOXNET and Beyond’ 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:

Let’s TOX

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

The NNLM Training Office(NTO) is offering a free, online, asynchronous CE class called Discovering TOXNET® from March 1, 2017 – March 31, 2017.

How is the content delivered?
You will discover TOXNET and other NLM environmental health databases through videos, guided hands-on tutorials, and discovery exercises. The class is taught online in thirteen independent modules.

What is TOXNET?
TOXNET is a suite of databases that cover hazardous chemicals, environmental health, toxic releases, chemical nomenclature, poisoning, risk assessment, regulations plus occupational safety and health.

Who should take the class?
Health sciences librarians and health or environmental science professionals interested in unlocking the information in TOXNET and the other environmental health and toxicology resources.

How much time?
You will work on your own time over a period of 4 weeks to complete the modules that are of interest to you. There is one required module; all the remaining modules are optional. This class is offered for variable MLA continuing education credit. Each module carries 0.5 to 2.0 credit hours, for a total of up to 12 hours. Credit will not be awarded for partial completion of a module. Total credit awarded will be based on completed modules with a minimum of 1.0 credit hours.

What happens during the class?
This course is offered asynchronously through Moodle; you will work at your own pace. Each module consists of guided, interactive, online tutorials AND/OR tutorial videos, as well as discovery exercises. Instructors will be available to answer questions and provide assistance throughout the course.

The modules (and their CE credits) are:
Introduction to TOXNET: 0.5 hour (Required)
TOXLINE: 1.0 hour
ChemIDplus: 2.0 hours
Integrated Risk Information System & Risk Assessment: 1.0 hour
Hazardous Substances Databank: 1.5 hours
Toxic Release Inventory: 1.0 hour
TOXMAP: 1.5 hours
Household Products Database: 0.5 hour
LactMed: 0.5 hour
Haz-Map: 0.5 hour
WISER & CHEMM: 1.0 hour
REMM: 0.5 hour
Drug Information Portal: 0.5 hour

How do I register?
Follow the link below to register (you will be asked to login):

For questions, contact the NTO at

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.

2014 TRI Data added to TOXMAP

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Industries and businesses in the United States use tens of thousands of chemicals to make the products we depend on, such as pharmaceuticals, computers, paints, clothing, and automobiles. Although the majority of toxic chemicals are managed by industrial facilities to minimize releases of chemicals into the environment, releases do still occur.

It is your right to know what toxic chemicals are being used in your community, how they are managed, whether they are being released into the environment, the quantities of these releases, and whether such quantities are increasing or decreasing over time.

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is an EPA program that tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. This information is submitted by thousands of U.S. facilities on over 650 chemicals and chemical categories under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA).

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.