Who Uses the Toxic Release Inventory TRI Data Collected by the EPA?
Every July, since the yesteryear of 1986, thousands of Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reports make their way across the country to the EPA. The public data in the TRI reports creates a map of hazardous materials in every community in the country. The EPA is enforcing our citizen right to know what chemicals are in the places where we live and work.
The driving legislation behind the TRI reports is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). In response to two consecutive chemical industry tragedies in 1984, the Senate passed the EPCRA in order to save lives and enable informed decisions by citizens, government, and industry leaders. The main goals are “to promote contingency planning for chemical emergencies, and provide the public with information about toxic and hazardous chemicals in their communities.”
Toxic chemical information is made public and the EPA hosts a free for all database of the TRI reports. People have a natural drive to find patterns, and it is interesting to look at who is mining the TRI data for trends. These data miners are from diverse fields, and they can take the TRI reports and, presto! create derivative reports and unveil correlations.
Humanity at large should be concerned about the chemicals covered by the TRI Program, which are those that cause cancer or significant negative health effects as well as significant adverse environmental effects. However, a few special interest groups have emerged with a curiosity for the TRI reports. A range of people depend on the TRI data to get informed about toxic releases, as well as the awesome activities companies do to prevent pollution.
Groups mining Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) big data include:
– Academic organizations
– Citizen and community groups
– Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA itself, of course!)
– Governmental Agencies
– Financial and insurance firms
One of the benefits of having a public database of pollution prevention actions is that other companies can get advice about problems that have already solutions. In fact, as a sign of the times of today’s digital world, the EPA has an online forum about the TRI reports where users can share ideas.
In the chemical industry, companies are looking at TRI data to track their own environmental impact and progress. As difficult as it is to comply with EPCRA, some facilities are finding a silver lining. Companies in a variety of industries, including the Scana Corporation and DuPont, report their own pollution prevention programs to customers and shareholders in order to gain important reputation points.
Since the original goals of the EPCRA and TRI reporting were to promote contingency planning and inform the public of toxic chemicals, the EPA wants to make the reports as easy to find as possible. The EPA hosts TRI.NET, a database of reports searchable by location and more. Since the reports have been trailing in since 1986, there is over 30 years worth of rich data on pollution and pollution prevention.
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