Airborne toxins down, but overall pollutant levels rising, EPA says

Jan 16, 2013
Airborne toxins down, but overall pollutant levels rising: EPA
Better technologies may bring cleaner air, but dumping of toxins onto land is rising, agency says.

(HealthDay)—There's some good news and bad news from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on pollutants: Although emissions of toxic air pollutants in the United States continue to decline, total releases of toxic chemicals in the air, water and land are on the rise.

The findings come from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), the EPA's annual report on pollutants.

"Since 1998, we have recorded a steady decline in the amount of TRI chemicals released into the air and, since 2009 alone, we have seen more than a 100 million pound decrease in TRI entering our communities," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in an agency news release. "This remarkable success is due in part to the TRI program and concerted efforts by industry, regulators and public interest groups to clean up the air we all depend upon."

Total toxic air releases declined 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, the EPA said in the report, mostly due to decreases in emissions of hazardous air pollutants such as mercury and hydrochloric acid.

Likely reasons for the decrease in these emissions include installation of new pollution-control technologies at and a switch to other fuel sources, according to the report.

Releases of toxic chemicals into surface water fell 3 percent from 2010 to 2011.

Releases of toxins on land, however, jumped by 19 percent, primarily due to increases in land disposal at metal mines, the EPA said.

In 2011, a total of 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were disposed of or released into the air, water or land—an 8 percent increase from 2010. It was the second year in a row that there was an increase in total releases of .

The EPA's report gathers data on certain toxic chemical releases to the , water and land, as well as information about waste-management and pollution-prevention activities at manufacturing, metal mining, electric utility and commercial hazardous waste facilities across the country.

Explore further: Researchers question emergency water treatment guidelines

More information: The Natural Resources Defense Council has more about health and the environment.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EPA unveils air quality check tools

Nov 20, 2007

The same technology that allows computer users to zoom in on satellite pictures of their homes is now available to learn about air quality, U.S. regulators say.

New US anti-pollution standards draw industry fire

Dec 21, 2011

US health campaigners Wednesday hailed the announcement of new anti-pollution standards for American manufacturers, but industry leaders condemned the rules for being costly and overly aggressive.

EPA to limit mercury emissions from power plants

Oct 26, 2009

The Environmental Protection Agency will put controls on the emissions of hazardous pollutants such as mercury from coal-fired power plants for the first time by November 2011, according to an agreement announced Friday to ...

EPA requires cleanup of mercury from cement plants

Aug 10, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced the nation's first limits on mercury emissions from cement plants. The decision also will require reductions of other harmful pollutants from cement plants, including ...

Recommended for you

European climate at the +2 C global warming threshold

3 hours ago

A global warming of 2 C relative to pre-industrial climate has been considered as a threshold which society should endeavor to remain below, in order to limit the dangerous effects of anthropogenic climate change.

Australia's dirty secret: who's breathing toxic air?

5 hours ago

Australians living in poorer communities, with lower employment and education levels, as well as communities with a high proportion of Indigenous people, are significantly more likely to be exposed to high ...

Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

23 hours ago

New Zealand's pastoral landscapes are some of the loveliest in the world, but they also contain a hidden threat. Many of the country's pasture soils have become enriched in cadmium. Grasses take up this toxic heavy metal, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Melting during cooling period

(Phys.org) —A University of Maine research team says stratification of the North Atlantic Ocean contributed to summer warming and glacial melting in Scotland during the period recognized for abrupt cooling ...