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Poisoning Our Future

Section IV: What We Should Know: A More Complete Picture of Releases and Major Sources of the Most Dangerous Substances


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This section uses several studies of well-known persistent and bioaccumulative toxins, such as EPAís Mercury Study: Report to Congress, to take a closer look at the pollution that may not be evident from the Right to Know reporting (See Appendix A for Methodology and Appendix C for references used for each chemical) . The analysis focuses on a few persistent bioaccumulative toxins that either partly or totally escape the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) because thresholds that trigger reporting requirements are set too high. If reporting thresholds for PBTs were zero, there would be additional reports from facilities that already report to TRI, as well as industries that are not reporting releases of PBTs at all. Table IV.1 lists the industries that report to TRI (including those scheduled to report in 1998) and are major sources of emissions of certain PBTs. Table IV.1 also estimates the amount of releases from each industry.

Approximately 9 percent of the combined total of air emissions of lead, air emissions of hexachlorobenzene, total releases of mercury, and total releases of PAHs were actually reported to TRI in 1996, and no dioxins were reported. The purpose of Table IV.1 is to present a better picture of the information that would be reported to TRI if there were a zero threshold for reporting PBTs. Therefore, it only includes industries that currently report or that will have to report in the next reporting cycle. The numbers in the table do not include all sources of PBT pollution. For example, medical waste incinerators are one of the largest sources of dioxin emissions, but since they are exempt from reporting, even a zero threshold would not provide the public with information on their releases. Table IV.1 does not include their estimated emissions. However, it presents a good picture of the limited scope of the information available to the public about five of the most well-known persistent bioaccumulative toxins.

Table IV.2 shows the numbers of facilities in each state in industries that are likely to have emissions of the PBTs listed in Table IV.1 . We found that approximately as few as 30 percent of facilities that use or release these substances reported to TRI in 1996. The data, from the U.S. Bureau of Censusís County Business Patterns for 1995, were matched to forms with the same primary SIC code for each state in the 1995 TRI database. The purpose is to give a general idea of how many potential sources of PBTs a zero TRI threshold would reveal. Table IV.3 separates the information by industry, rather than by state.

Table IV.1: Major Industrial Sources and Estimated Releases of Certain Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins

Substance Major Industrial Sources Estimated Annual Releases
Mercury electric utility boilers* 51.6 tons
commercial/industrial boilers-coal** 20.7 tons
commercial/industrial boilers-oil** 7.7 tons
hazardous waste combustion* 7.1 tons
chlor-alkali manufacturing 7.1 tons
portland cement manufacturing 4.8 tons
pulp and paper manufacturing 1.9 tons
Total 100.9 tons
Percent reported to 1996 TRI 8.4
Lead (air emissions only) primary lead production 674 tons
non-municipal waste incineration* 552 tons
secondary lead production 432 tons
gray iron production 366 tons
metal mining* 183 tons
steel production 152 tons
lead oxide/pigment manufacturing 144 tons
lead battery manufacturing 105 tons
Total 2,608 tons
Percent reported to 1996 TRI 34.6
Dioxin and dioxin-like compounds secondary copper smelting 541 grams TEQ
non-incinerated municipal sludge 214 grams TEQ
cement kilns 153 grams TEQ
ferrous metal sintering plants 100 grams TEQ
bleached pulp and paper mills 45 gramsTEQ
Total 1053 grams TEQ
Percent reported to 1996 TRI 0.0
Hexachlorobenzene (air emmissions only) electric utility boilers* 1,360 pounds
chlorinated solvent production 1,161 pounds
pesticide manufacture 915 pounds
tire manufacture 869 pounds
Total 4,305 pounds
Percent reported to 1996 TRI 5.1
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) consumer and commercial slovent use 5,733 tons
aerospace industry (surface coating) 1,640 tons
coke ovens 1,133 tons
petroleum refining 1,100 tons
pulp and paper manufacturing 838 tons
primary aluminum production 662 tons
blast furnace and steel mills 499 tons
Total 11,605 tons
Percent reported to 1996 TRI 2.9
* Industries that will be reporting to the Toxics Release Inventory for 1998, under EPA's 1997 rulemaking.

** Some small commercial/industrial boilers may not be required to report to TRI, but we estimate much of the the mercury pollution comes from large boilers, so we included the numbers here.

Table IV.2: Percentages of Facilities in Each State Reporting to TRI Within 25 Industries That Release PBTs

State # Census Establishments # TRI facilities Percent reporting to TRI
Alabama 301 146 48.5
Alaska 40 5 12.5
Arizona 116 25 21.6
Arkansas 170 61 35.9
California 835 193 23.1
Colorado 147 19 12.9
Connecticut 131 29 22.1
Delaware 41 23 56.1
District of Columbia 12 0 0
Florida 379 63 16.6
Georgia 390 127 32.6
Hawaii 28 4 14.3
Idaho 73 12 16.4
Illinois 507 164 32.3
Indiana 351 111 31.6
Iowa 221 44 19.9
Kansas 179 37 20.7
Kentucky 208 73 35.1
Louisiana 353 140 39.7
Maine 79 20 25.3
Maryland 158 36 22.8
Massachusetts 223 55 24.7
Michigan 471 110 23.4
Minnesota 216 48 22.2
Mississippi 178 66 37.1
Missouri 282 61 21.6
Montana 94 15 16
Nebraska 36 13 36.1
Nevada 48 10 20.8
New Hampshire 86 13 15.1
New Jersey 408 133 32.6
New Mexico 88 8 9.1
New York 442 103 23.3
North Carolina 341 99 29
North Dakota 66 3 4.5
Ohio 582 249 42.8
Oklahoma 215 46 21.4
Oregon 180 51 28.3
Pennsylvania 655 228 34.8
Rhode Island 31 10 32.3
South Carolina 260 99 38.1
South Dakota 60 3 5
Tennessee 244 107 43.9
Texas 992 308 31
Utah 110 27 24.5
Vermont 48 1 2.1
Virginia 223 71 31.8
Washington 243 70 28.8
West Virginia 113 46 40.7
Wisconsin 326 119 36.5
Wyoming 58 10 17.2
Total for all states 12,038 3,514 29.2
The number of Census Establishments in this table is from the 1995 County Business Patterns file, provided by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. A census establishment is generally a complete facility and is classified by a single primary SIC code. The number of establishments includes only those establishments with 10 or more employees, in order to match a TRI reporting criterion.

The number of TRI facilities is the number with a TRI form that has a primary SIC code within the listed industry. Since a single TRI facility can have more than one form (there is one per chemical) and since different forms can have different primary SIC codes, a single facility could be listed under more than one industry above. This will lead to a slight degree of double counting, which may inflate TRI numbers. Facilities were included if they reported any chemical to TRI, not just PBT chemicals.

Table IV.3: Percentages of Facilities Reporting to TRI Within 25 Industries That Release PBTs

Industry1 Number of Census Establishments, 19952 Number of TRI Facilities, 19953 Percent of Census Establishments reporting to TRI
Agricultural chemicals, n.e.c. 144 134 93.1
Alkalies and chlorine 35 -- * 100
Blast furnaces and steel mills 246 176 71.5
Cement, hydraulic 152 72 47.4
Combination utility services 1,299 2 0.2
Cyclic crudes and intermediates 165 123 74.5
Electric services 3,724 6 0.2
Electrometallurgical products 30 22 73.3
Industrial gases 210 90 42.9
Industrial inorganic chemicals, n.e.c. 396 368 92.9
Industrial organic chemicals, n.e.c. 510 430 84.3
Inorganic pigments 62 51 82.3
Iron and steel foundries 862 398 46.2
Lead and zinc ores (mining) 25 0 0
Paper mills 285 148 51.9
Petroleum refining 202 177 87.6
Plastics materials and synthetics 571 495 86.7
Primary aluminum 32 25 78.1
Primary copper 19 9 47.4
Primary nonferrous metals, n.e.c. 70 35 50
Pulp mills 47 -- * 100
Sanitary services 2,342 8 0.3
Secondary nonferrous metals 220 193 87.7
Tires and inner tubes 109 77 70.6
Wood preserving 281 -- * 100
1 Industries are defined by 3-digit or 4-digit SIC codes. Some TRI facilities reported pre-1987 version SIC codes, and these were converted to 1987-version values.

2 This is the number of Census Establishments from the 1995 County Business Patterns file, provided by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. A census establishment is generally a complete facility and is classified by a single primary SIC code. The number of establishments includes only those establishments with 10 or more employees, in order to match a TRI reporting criterion.

3 This is the number of TRI facilities with a TRI form that has a primary SIC code within the listed industry. Since a single TRI facility can have more than one form (there is one per chemical) and since different forms can have different primary SIC codes, a single facility could be listed under more than one industry above. This will lead to a slight degree of double counting, which may inflate the TRI numbers. Facilities were included if they reported any chemical to TRI, not just PBT chemicals.

* This indicates that the number of TRI facilities for this industry was listed as greater than the number of census establishments. This could happen either because of the double counting problem mentioned above or because TRI facilities need only report SIC codes in the manufacturing sector, while census primary SICs can be in any sector (this will tend to inflate the number of TRI facilities in manufacturing industries).


19 Includes only facilities with greater than 10 employees





 

 

april 1999

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