RTK NET has included links to New Jersey Right To Know Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets from chemical names in Summary reports, as well as including chemical information from these sheets in higher levels of detail about whether chemicals are considered to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic or have other health effects. For the 2013 data release, RTK NET for the first time included county and facility percentage comparisons based in part on these chemical categories, as well as on total TRI releases and waste generation.
If an RTK NET TRI search is done that retrieves a single TRI facility (or part of a facility) within a single TRI year, and a Summary level of detail and human-readable output is chosen, then a chart will appear comparing all of the releases and waste from that facility to other TRI facilities in the same year. If the search retrieves more than one facility, but all of the facilities that it retrieves are within a single county within a single TRI year, then this chart will appear comparing all of the releases and waste from that county to other TRI counties in the same year. The comparisons are done on the basis of percentages, with the facilities or counties having the smallest number of pounds of releases, waste generation, of releases of carcinogens / mutagens / teratogens labelled as 0% and the rest of the facilities ordered from there to 100%, so that a facility at 10% would have 10% of TRI facilities in the year having fewer pounds and 90% having more pounds. More information is available here.
On 2/11/2013, RTK NET added U.S. 113th Congressional Districts to its copy of the TRI database. These were originally determined through geocoding the TRI facilties -- -- by using map software to locate each facility by its address, or if that did not work, by its Zip code. RTK NET users can now search by Congressional District through the advanced search and see a breakdown of numbers of facilities by top Congressional Districts in the Summary search display as long as the search is not a search for transfers.
For the 2012 reporting year, EPA added the chemical Hydrogen Sulfide to TRI reporting.
EPA reports transfers off-site to dispoal as "off-site releases" and RTK NET follows suit within certain data in its database. A problem occurs when a transfer is sent to a facility that is also a TRI reporting facility: in this case the transfer might be reported by the receiving facility as a release. In order to avoid this "double counting" within total on-site plus off-site release amounts, EPA estimates the amount of double counting and removes the estimated double counted amount from the totals. For the first time, in this data release RTK NET had used EPA's calculated double counting numbers instead of calculating our own. This means that our numbers (from the data fields calculated in this way) should match those used in EPA's TRI National Analysis. Note that EPA only provided doulbe counting numbers at the level of TRI submissions, not at the level of individual TRI transfers, so that the double counting numbers associated with individual transfers on RTK NET are those calculated by RTK NET and will differ slightly from the double counting numbers provided at the submission level.
TRI was last updated on RTK NET with a set of EPA data last updated on October 8, 2015, and includes records from reporting years 1987 through 2015. These data should match the data used in EPA's TRI National Analysis documents.
RTK NET provides access to the 2.3.2 version of RSEI risk screening data along with TRI. This version has 2011 as its latest TRI reporting year.
The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) is a database of information about
releases and transfers of toxic chemicals from facilities in certain
industrial sectors, including manufacturing, waste handling, mining, and
electricity generation. Facilities must also report the total amount
of toxic chemicals in waste that they produce. Facilities must report to
TRI if they fulfill four criteria:
The TRI data are reported by individual facilities, who send their reports to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) every year. These reports are filled out on a form called "Form R", or sometimes on an abbreviated form called "Form A" if the release and waste amounts fall below certain thresholds. EPA takes these forms and converts them into an electronic database. To better understand TRI data, it is recommended that you obtain a copy of one of these forms from the TRI Hotline (1-800-424-9346) or from the EPA TRI Web site, where you can also find many other guidance documents. You can also obtain a national EPA Public Data Release summary of TRI data every year from these sources.
The TRI statute defines "release" to mean "any spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping or disposing into the environment." This means that TRI facilities have to report the amount of toxic chemical released into the air, water, or land, even if the release to land is within a site designed to contain it, such as a RCRA permitted landfill. Releases to the air, water, land, or underground at the facility are called on-site releases.
Sometimes a facility will send waste containing a TRI chemical somewhere else to be handled. These shipments are called transfers. Some transfers are to sites where the chemical is disposed of -- in other words, released to the air, water, or land. Since these transfers to disposal result in a release, they are called off-site releases.
Lastly, there is still another kind of estimated release, which results from a facility's use of Form A to report to TRI (more information on Form A here). Form A allows a facility to avoid reporting its amount of releases as long as its actual release amount is not above a certain threshold. So the actual amount of releases for a Form A submission is not zero, it's somewhere between zero and the threshold amount. Therefore, RTK NET estimates that Form A submissions have an average release equal to the midpoint of this range -- one half of the Form A release threshold value. This is the way in which release and transfer range reporting has been handled in TRI on Form R since its inception. It is not possible to say whether these estimated releases are to air, water, or land, so they are in their own generalized category.
The table below lists all the categories of releases shown on RTK NET, and more information about each. The type of release is often called its environmental medium, or just its medium.
|Category||Type of release (medium)||Description|
|On-site air||Fugitive air||Fugitive air emissions are all releases to air that are not released through a confined air stream. Fugitive emissions include equipment leaks, evaporation from spills, and releases from building ventilation systems. Fugitive air emissions are often more highly concentrated close to the facility than stack air emissions.|
|On-site air||Stack air||Stack or point source air emissions occur through confined air streams such as smokestacks, vents, ducts, or pipes. They are often spread out over a wider area than fugitive air emissions.|
|On-site water||Surface water||Releases to surface water include discharges to streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water. This includes both releases from confined sources, such as industrial process outflow pipes, and releases due to runoff, including stormwater runoff.|
|On-site land and underground||Land||Disposal to land on site is the release of a toxic chemical to land within the boundries of the reporting facility. Releases to land include disposal of toxic chemicals in landfills (in which wastes are buried), land treatment/application farming (in which a waste containing a listed chemical is applied to or incorporated into soil), surface impoundments (which are uncovered holding areas used to volatilize and/or settle materials), and other land disposal methods (such as waste piles) or uncontrolled releases to land (such as spills or leaks).|
|On-site land and underground||Underground injection||Underground injection is the dumping of fluids underground through wells. Underground injection wells are categorized within Classes I through V, with Class I being permitted for toxic waste disposal and Class V being generally shallow.|
|Other||Off-site release||Transfers to disposal are treated as off-site releases, since they result in the same outcome that would be called a release if it happened on-site. On RTK NET, transfers to disposal include transfers with recognized disposal methods, transfers with unknown waste management methods, and POTW transfers of metals (since metals are not destroyed in POTWs). EPA does not include transfers with unknown waste management methods in its version of this category, so RTK NET's numbers will not exactly match EPA's. Transfers to disposal have "double counting quantities" subtracted from them. These happen when a transfer is sent to a destination that is also a TRI reporting facility, and the destination reports onsite releases of the same chemical. In this case reporting both the transfer as an offsite release for one facility, and its actual release at its destination as an onsite release at that facility, would result in counting the transfer as a release twice. So the double counting amount isn't used as an offsite release.|
|Other||Form A midpoint estimate||The midpoint between zero and the Form A reporting threshold is treated by RTK NET as the estimated amount of releases for a Form A submission. These releases can not be identified as air, water, or land. More information on Form A is available.|
In addition, some totals on RTK NET show "Total Onsite Releases" and "Total Releases". Total Onsite Releases are the sum of the onsite quantities released to air, water, land, and underground. Total Releases is the sum of Total Onsite Releases plus off-site releases and Form A midpoint estimate releases.
The data field sometimes called "Remedial Release" or "Accidental or Remedial Release" is the amount of the total onsite releases that was released due to one-time events such as accidents or cleanups. It is actually reported as part of the waste section of TRI, and is discussed in more detail in the section on wastes below.
Transfers of waste occur when a TRI facility sends waste containing a TRI chemical to another location. The amount listed is the amount of the TRI chemical, not the total poundage of waste including other constituents. The destination of the transfer may be within the U.S. or in another country.
Transfers are classified by what happens to the waste at its destination -- the type of "waste management" used, which in general can involve recycling, treatment, or disposal. One important distinction within TRI is between transfers to POTWs and transfers to all other kinds of destinations. POTWs, or Publicly Owned Treatment Works, are better known as sewerage treatment plants. They are owned by states or municipalities, and toxics are transferred to them through pipes or sewer systems. They are often not designed to specifically treat toxic chemicals. TRI facilities report POTW transfers differently from all other offsite transfers; for POTWs, they report the total amount transferred to all POTWs without indicating how much goes to each, while with all other transfers, they indicates how much goes to each destination. RTK NET compensates for this by dividing up an amount transferred to multiple POTW locations evenly among them.
Transfers as classified by waste management type have been assigned by RTK NET to categories and subcategories. The table below shows the various types.
|Category||Subcategory||TRI Waste Management Type(s)|
|Recycling or recovery||Metals recovery||M24: Metals Recovery|
|Recycling or recovery||Solvents/Organics recovery||M20: Solvents/Organics Recovery|
|Recycling or recovery||Acid regeneration||M28: Acid Regeneration|
|Recycling or recovery||Other reuse or recovery||M26: Other Reuse or Recovery|
M93: Transfer to Waste Broker-Recycling
|Burning||Energy recovery (burning)||M56: Energy Recovery|
M92: Transfer to Waste Broker-Energy Recovery
|Burning||Incineration||M50: Incineration/Thermal Treatment|
M54: Incineration/Insignificant Fuel Value
|POTW or wastewater treatment||POTW water treatment||P91: POTW Transfer|
|POTW or wastewater treatment||Wastewater treatment (except POTW)||M61: Wastewater Treatment (Excluding POTW)|
M62: Wastewater Treatment(Excluding POTW)-Metals and Metal Compounds only
|Land or underground disposal||Landfills or surface impoundment||M63: Surface Impoundment|
M64: Other Landfills
M65: RCRA Subtitle C Landfills
M66: RCRA Subtitle C Surface Impoundment
M67: Other Surface Impoundment
M72: Landfill/Disposal Surface Impoundment
|Land or underground disposal||Solidification / Stabilization||M40: Solidification/Stabilization|
M41: Solidification/Stabilization-Metals and Metal Compounds only
|Land or underground disposal||Underground injection||M71: Underground Injection|
M81: Underground Injection to Class I Wells
M82: Underground Injection to Class II-V Wells
|Land or underground disposal||Other land disposal||M73: Land Treatment|
M79: Other Land Disposal
|Other||Other waste treatment||M69: Other Waste Treatment|
M95: Transfer to Waste Broker-Waste Treatment
|Other||Unknown||M10: Storage Only|
M90: Other Off-Site Management
M91: Transfer to Waste Broker
M94: Transfer to Waste Broker-Disposal
Blank, invalid, or NA
Off-site releases include all transfers to the "Land and underground disposal" category and "Unknown" subcategory, subtracting amounts that are sent to another TRI facility and reported by that facility as onsite releases. They also include POTW transfers of metals.
In addition, some totals on RTK NET show "POTW Transfers", "Other Transfers", and "Total Transfers". POTW Transfers includes POTW transfers only, Other Transfers or Other Offsite Transfers includes all transfers except POTWs, and Total Transfers is both. Some totals will show "Releases Plus Transfers", which adds together on-site releases, total transfers, and Form A midpoint release estimates.
Waste reporting was added to TRI by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, so waste data are not available for reporting years 1990 and before. The Pollution Prevention Act set out a hierarchy of methods which should be used to handle waste: preferably source reduction, then recycling, then treatment, then permitted disposal, and least preferably release. (Energy recovery was added to this hierarchy between recycling and treatment due to pressure from industry). Source reduction refers to the process of preventing waste from being generated. This is the best method of "handling" toxic waste, since the waste is never generated in the first place.
In order to help estimate progress in source reduction, the Pollution Prevention Act specified that each facility should report the amount of production-related waste that it generated in the current and previous year -- the amount of waste created by the normal operation of production processes. This can be compared to the production index or ratio, also required to be reported by the act, which gives the ratio of production activity in the previous to the current year, to find out how much waste would have been created if processes at the facility had stayed at the same efficiency with regard to waste generation, and compare that to the actual production-related waste generated.
Production-related waste is reported in subcategories according to how it is handled: whether it ends up being recycling, destroyed in treatment, or released. There is also an amount of non-production-related waste reported. This is the amount of waste created by accidents, one-time events, remedial actions (cleanups), and other occurances outside the normal production process. This quantity is sometimes called "Remedial or Accidental Releases" or just Remedial Releases for short. Lastly, RTK NET estimates the waste for Form A submissions by taking the midpoint between zero and the Form A waste threshold (more information on Form A is available).
Relating waste quantities to release and transfer quantities is difficult, although the amount reported as released onsite or disposed of offsite in the waste section of TRI should be close to the total releases. But if the facility reports nonzero releases and zero waste, then something is obviously wrong and they have misreported -- a facility should always have at least as much waste as releases plus transfers. The kinds of waste shown on RTK NET are listed in the table below. All waste quantities include only the amount of the toxic chemical, not other waste constituents.
|Category||Type of waste||Description|
|Recycled||Recycled on-site||The amount recycled on-site, including only the amount actually recovered for reuse, not the total amount entering recycling units on-site.|
|Recycled||Recycled off-site||The amount sent off-site for recycling. This includes all amounts intended to be recycled and sent off-site for that purpose, not just the amount of the toxic chemical actually recovered.|
|Burned for energy recovery||Burned for energy recovery on-site||The total amount of the toxic chemical in waste burned for energy recovery on-site during the calendar year (January 1 - December 31) for which the report was submitted. This includes only the amount of the toxic chemical actually combusted in the unit, not the total amount of the toxic chemical in the waste stream sent for energy recovery.|
|Burned for energy recovery||Burned for energy recovery off-site||The amount sent off-site to be burned for energy recovery. This includes all amounts intended to be recovered for energy and sent off-site for that purpose.|
|Treated||Treated on-site||The amount treated on-site, including only the amount actually destroyed by processes at the facility, not the total amount present in waste streams sent to those processes.|
|Treated||Treated off-site||The amount sent for treatment off-site. This includes the total amount intended to be treated (destroyed) and sent off-site for that purpose, not the amount of the toxic chemical actually treated (destroyed) by off-site processes.|
|Released on or off-site||Released on or off-site||The total amount released on-site to all media or dsposed of off-site. For reporting year 2003 and on, this waste quantity is reported as the sum of four wastes quantities: the amount released on-site to landfills or Class I wells, the amount released on-site not to landfills or Class I wells, the amount disposed off-site to landfills or Class I wells, and the amount disposed off-site not to landfills or Class I wells.|
|Other||Non-production-related waste||The amount released directly to the environment or sent off-site for recycling, energy recovery, treatment, or disposal during the reporting year due to remedial actions, catastrophic events such as earthquakes or floods, and one-time events not associated with normal or routine production processes.|
|Other||Form A midpoint estimate||The midpoint between zero and the Form A reporting threshold is treated by RTK NET as the estimated amount of waste for a Form A submission. This waste can not be identified as being recycled, treated, or disposed. More information on Form A is available.|
In addition, some RTK NET totals show "Production-related waste". This is the amount of production-related waste generated, the sum of the amounts recycled, burned for energy recovery, treated, and release on or off-site. It doesn't include non-production-related waste or Form A waste estimates. "Total waste" includes production-related waste, non-production-related waste, and Form A waste estimates.
For production-related waste categories, TRI reporters must supply both the current and previous year quantities, and estimate what these quantities will be for the next two years.
"Form A" is a TRI reporting form on which a facility can notify EPA that it meets the TRI criteria for reporting, but that it has releases and waste less than a certain threshold. Form A was added to TRI for the 1995 reporting year. From then through the 2005 reporting year, a Form A could be filed if the facility had 500 pounds or less of production-related waste. Since most releases (other than those from accidents or cleanups) involve generation of production-related waste that is later released, this put an effective limit for most facilities of 500 pounds of releases as well. When PBTs were started to be treated specially in TRI in 2000, PBTs were disallowed from Form A reporting.
Starting with the 2006 reporting year, EPA changed Form A so that from then on, a non-PBT chemical could be reported under Form A if it had 2000 pounds or less of releases and 5000 pounds or less of all waste. A PBT chemical could be reported under Form A if it had zero releases and 500 pounds of less of all waste.
Starting with the 2008 data year, EPA returned Form A to the 1995-2005 threshold levels, except that it specified that PBT reports can not use Form A.
RTK NET has decided that listing Form A submissions as if they have zero releases and waste is misrepresenting the data. If a facility meets the TRI reporting criteria but does actually have zero releases and waste, they can file a Form R reporting this, and many facilities do. Form A doesn't indicate zero, it indicates some undetermined number between zero and the Form A release or waste threshold.
There is a longstanding method of representing this situation that has been used within TRI since its inception to represent release and transfer range reporting. If the release or transfer is reported as a range, 1-10 pounds for instance, then the TRI database shows this as the midpoint of the range -- 5 pounds in this example. RTK NET has done the same thing for Form A reporting, using zero as the lower limit of the range and the Form A reporting threshold as the upper limit of the range, and taking the midpoint between them. Therefore releases and waste for Form A submissions have been estimated as the midpoints of ranges as follows:
|Reporting Year||PBT?||Form A Midpoint Release Estimate||Form A Midpoint Waste Estimate|
|1995-2005||Either||250 lbs||250 lbs|
|2006-2007||No||1000 lbs||2500 lbs|
|2008+||No||250 lbs||250 lbs|
The environmental medium of the estimated releases and waste management method of the estimated waste can not be determined. However, these estimated Form A releases and waste have been added to Total Releases and Total Waste throughout the site. EPA does not do this, so at present this will make RTK NET numbers not exactly match EPA's.
A common interest of people using TRI data is to be able to compare data across multiple years to see how total releases or waste have changed. This comparison of data from one year to data in another runs into a common problem: TRI reporting criteria have changed from one year to the next. If you look at year-to-year changes in raw TRI totals, they will be dominated by "paper changes" -- changes in the numbers due to changes in reporting requirements, not due to any actual physical change.
Some of these reporting changes can't be screened out. For instance, the addition and later expansion of Form A affects all of TRI, and might decrease totals for later TRI years somewhat. But there's nothing you can really do about this. The kind of reporting changes that can be screened out are: 1) changes to the list of chemicals reported, when chemicals are added or removed from the list; 2) changes in the reporting guidance of particular chemicals that make them be reported to TRI differently before and after a particular year; 3) the addition of new industries to TRI.
New industries, such as mining and electricity generation, were added to TRI in 1998. RTK NET has an option under the "core chemical" choice (for convenience to group it with the other related choices, not because it has anything to do with chemicals) to include only a year-invarying industry set across the range of years you select. This means that if your search includes any years before 1998, TRI submissions with their primary industry as one of the newly added industries will be removed from all years. If you don't use this option, you may see a sudden rise between 1997 and 1998.
When you choose the "core chemical" option on RTK NET, three things will happen. First, any chemical that has ever been delisted (removed from TRI reporting) will not show up in your search. Second, chemicals that were added to the TRI chemical list during the range of years you've selected (or during all years, if you haven't selected a year range) will be removed from your search. Third, chemicals whose reporting guidance changed during the range of years that you've selected will be removed from your search. This ensures that the list of chemicals retrieved by your search only includes those chemicals that were reported in the same way throughout all the years in your search.
One common source of reporting guidance changes is the PBT rule. Chemicals like lead and mercury were reported after the PBT rule came into effect in 2000 and 2001 with lower thresholds than they had had before. This means that PBTs like lead and mercury will be removed from your search if you choose a core chemical search and your first year is earlier than 2001 (or your last year is after 2000).
Searches that start in 2001 will avoid most core chemical restrictions.
Note that the bar chart displays of year trends of releases and waste in the HTML output of a Summary search always use the "core chemical" restriction, whether your search as a whole did or not. They do not use only the core industries, however.
The term "form" is sometimes used as shorthand for "the information on one TRI submission". Each facility reports TRI information to EPA in one or more submissions, usually one for each TRI chemical that the facility has to report on for the year. Submissions can either be "Form R", which is a report of all TRI information, or "Form A", which the faciliity can use to report that it meets the TRI thresholds for reporting but has a low enough amount of releases and waste so that EPA doesn't require it to report its actual amount of releases and waste.
Actually, there can be more than one form per chemical from a facility in a year, since facilities can choose to subdivide their reports by industrial units within the facility. In this case, multiple submissions of the same chemical from the same facility in the same year should have different NAICS indsutry codes.
When EPA prepares the TRI data, there is a certain date each year on which EPA "freezes" the database -- disallows data revisions and additions for a while, so that the data will be static while the Public Data Release is being prepared. This is known as the "frozen" data set. Later on in the year, EPA unfreezes the database, allowing continued revisions to the data, even though the deadline for submitting data has long since passed. Therefore, there can be a current data set for the same TRI year as the frozen one that has more up-to-date data, so that the data will no longer match the Public Data Release.
RTK NET originally allowed users to choose between the frozen and current data sets because it had received a data update after the frozen data was released, and wanted users to be able to choose either data that would match the Public Data Release, or the most current data available. Since that year, RTK NET has not received a "current" data set after the frozen one. Therefore, the current and frozen data sets on RTK NET should now be the same. However, there is one remaining difference: EPA does not include chemicals that have been delisted (removed from TRI reporting) in its Public Data Release, even when reports for those chemicals remain in the TRI database. In order for the frozen data to match the Public Data Release, RTK NET has arranged it so that the delisted chemicals will appear in searches that use the Current database, but not in searches that use the Frozen one.
TRI contains information about different types of substances:
Since many chemicals have more than one name in common use, it is often safer to search by CAS (Chemical Abstract Services) number. The CAS numbers in TRI are stored in a format that is left filled with zeroes to 9 digits, and contains no dashes, so that the CAS number "50-00-0" (for Formaldehyde) would be stored as "000050000". For chemical categories, which have no CAS numbers, a chemical ID has been made that resides in the CAS number data field for identification purposes.
Most of the primary metals listed in TRI also are listed as a class of "compounds". For instance, Lead can be reported as a chemical (with CAS number 7439-92-1) or as the chemical category "Lead Compounds". If you are doing a TRI search in which your goal is to find all releases of lead, you should probably search with chemical_name matching "LEAD*" (the * is a wildcard character). This search will find both "Lead" and "Lead Compounds".
EPA is generally fairly good at checking to see that the same facility keeps the same TRI Facility ID from one year to the next, and that the cities, states, counties, and Zip codes of facilities match each other. However, the locations and ID numbers of off-site transfer destinations and POTWs are not checked.
EPA queries some facilities that send in submissions with very high release numbers, and some facilities whose numbers change drastically from one year to the next, to see if the numbers are correct. There is also a program under which TRI facilities can be inspected (not many are). Other than this, the numbers that a facility submits are not checked.
Facilities that report can estimate their numbers; they are not required to be measured. Pollution releases reported to TRI are generally assumed to be legal, under the assumption that a facility would be foolish to report illegal releases rather than falsifying their TRI reports.
There are special problems with the waste generation numbers reported in Section 8 of the Form R. Because of interference by the Office of Management and Budget, EPA was never able to publish a definition of important concepts involved in this part of the form. As a result, the distinction between recycling, which is reportable to TRI, and reuse within a process, which is not, is unclear, and different facilities probably have different standards for reporting these quantities.
Bear in mind in your analysis that TRI quantities are supposed to be
estimated to only two significant digits. That means that if you add up a
number of TRI releases and get a number like 11,264,586 pounds, only the
first two digits have any meaning. In most cases, you would be better off
writing this number as 11 million pounds.
RSEI, or Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators, is a dataset created by EPA that uses risk factors to screen TRI releases for chronic human health problems. RSEI's offical Web site is here. RSEI works by assigning most TRI chemicals an oral and inhalation toxicity weighting -- a unitless number that indicates how hazardous it is for chronic human health effects compared to other chemicals -- and multiplying pounds of chemicals released by these weightings. Then an exposure model is run for each release to estimate where the chemical goes -- how far out, and where, it spreads to in the air if it is an air release, or which water body it goes into and how far downstream it goes if it is a water release. With this information on where each release goes, and with Census data that show how many people live in each place, EPA can estimate how many people are actually affected by each release and the concentrations of the chemical they are exposed to. This exposure and population information is multiplied on to the pounds released times toxicity weight number. The result is an RSEI score, which is in some sense pounds released times relative toxicity times the number of people affected.
RSEI scores are comparative. They have no inherent meaning other than to say that, according to the RSEI procedure, a score of 2 may be twice as risky as a score of 1. These indicators can be used to help decide which releases to examine in more detail, because RSEI by itself does not contain sufficient information to say with confidence how risky a release is. It's an indicator that uses the best information that's available for the universe of TRI releases, but more information may need to be collected for an in-depth look at any particular release. However, the scores can be useful in order to focus attention on which releases might be investigated first.
RSEI scores include toxicity weighting for chronic human health effects only -- i.e. effects that appear after long exposure so relatively low concentrations. It does not include acute effects -- those that appear suddenly, such as poisonings that might occur during a large release in an industrial accident. It also does not include ecosystem toxicity, or toxicity to any animals except humans. In addition, some TRI chemicals, most notably dioxin, were never assigned an RSEI toxicity weighting, and therefore incorrectly appear to have a risk screening score of zero. The chronic human toxicity score does, however, include both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects.
RSEI currently estimates scores for fugitive air releases, stack air releases, water releases, POTW transfers, and transfers to incineration. No other kinds of releases or transfers are assigned RSEI scores, and therefore they are implicitly assigned zero risk. Needless to say, this may not actually be the case.
RTK NET uses RSEI data taken from RSEI version 2.3.2, the latest version available. However, this version only calculates RSEI scores for 1988-2011 TRI data, and the latest TRI data year available is 2014. Therefore there are no RSEI data for the last TRI year. In addition, there is the problem that TRI facilities can choose to revise prior year reports. Therefore, the 2011 year of TRI data is no longer the same as it was when RSEI was made. In fact, some facilities revise their prior year TRI data specifically to correct errors that they say that they made in their release estimates that cause their RSEI numbers to be much higher than they should be. For instance, it is common for facilities to report Diisocyanates or Chromium compounds using an air release range code of 11-499 pounds and then discover that this is treated as 250 pounds, giving them a large RSEI score for these chemicals, so that they revise their numbers with a lower release estimate rather than using a range code. It is important to include these revisions into the presented RSEI numbers, because otherwise the top scores may well belong to facilities that have since presented new information.
Therefore, RTK NET attempts to revise the RSEI data according to TRI revisions that have come in since RSEI 2.3.2 was made. These are done by comparing the total pounds reported for each facility / year / chemical / release medium combination in RSEI 2.3.2 to the total pounds reported for each equivalent combination in TRI. If TRI now, for instance, contains 1/3 the reported release pounds for one of these combinations than it contained at the time RSEI was made, the RSEI scores for that combination are divided by 1/3. The scores must be modified on the basis of facility / year / chemical / medium combinations, rather than changes to specific TRI submissions, because one frequent form of revision involves deleting a TRI submission and replacing it with a new and different one.
This RTK NET revision procedure can not create a new score when RSEI didn't contain a report for a particular chemical from a particular facility, but one was reported later -- you can't start with zero and take a ratio of release pounds to increase it up to something. Therefore, in order to keep results consistent, RTK NET has decided to not use revisions to increase any RSEI scores, even in cases where there is an original nonzero score and a later TRI revision that increases the number of pounds reported as released. The RSEI scores are only adjusted downwards, not upwards.
RTK NET has included a search option that allows you to select output that does not include RSEI data (the default is for RSEI data to be included). This can be done for cases in which you want output to only include TRI, for whatever reason.
RSEI data are not yet available through RTK NET in comma-delimited or tab-delimited form. They are available through HTML or XML.
For additional information on RSEI, or to study RSEI data in more depth, please go to the EPA RSEI Web site.
RTK NET has also added chemical health effects from Right to Know Hazardous Substance List prepared by the state of New Jersey Department of Health. A description of what these chemical health effects mean can be found here. The chemical health effects were last updated by RTK NET (i.e. copied from the New Jersey list) on October 14, 2014.
Note that Fact Sheets and chemical health effects for metal compounda and other TRI chemical categories are not generally available. This is because a chemical category includes a large set of different chemicals, some of which may have different health effects -- for instance, hexavalent chromium is known to be a carcinogen, while trivalent chromium is not. However, we have found that TRI reporters often report a metal as a metal compound or vice versa, i.e. lead vs lead compounds. If the chemical category was listed with no health effects while the chemical itself was, this would lead to different notice of different TRI reporters that were essentially doing the same thing. Therefore, we've chosen to list metal chemical categories as having the same health effects (and Fact Sheets) as their metals, even though New Jersey does not.
Some chemical categories are not classified by New Jersey as having health eeffects even though all members of the category generally do. These include Dioxins, PBBs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Searches for carcingoens will not find these chemical categories because of this reason.
There are a few important terms that are used in a specialized fashion within this documentation:
For the 2011 reporting year, EPA added 16 carcinogens from the National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens to TRI reporting.
For 2011, EPA changed the way that facilities report off-site transfers to Publicly Owned Sewerage Plants (POTWs). For 1987-1990, facilities had reported how much of each toxic chemical they sent to each POTW. For the 1991-2010 data years, as a burden reduction measure EPA let facilities report only the total amount that they sent to all POTWs. Facilities listed all POTWs that they sent any amount to, and did not report the amount sent to each. As of 2011, facilities must again report how much they sent to each POTW.
The Form A threshold were returned to 1995-2005 levels, with no Form A submissions allowed for PBTs.
Dioxin and dioxin-like compounds were reported in a new way that allows calculation of TEQs.
The Form A threshold was increased from 500 pounds of production-related waste generated to 2000 pounds of releases and 5000 pounds of total waste for non-PBTs, and zero pounds of releases and 500 pounds of total waste for PBTs.
TRI was changed so that industry was reported as NAICS codes rather than SIC codes.
The 2000 TRI reporting year adds data for PBTs, persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals. These chemicals of special concern can be dangerous at low levels, so EPA decreased the TRI reporting thresholds for them. In addition, they can now be reported using fractional pounds. The most toxic PBT, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, is reported as total grams. TRI facilities can optionally report the percentage breakdown of total dioxin into 17 specific chemicals. For more information on PBTs, see the EPA Web site on TRI. Lead and lead compounds were changed to PBT reporting in 2001.
The most important change in TRI data collection for the 1998 data year was the addition of seven new industries to TRI:
Two important changes occur in TRI data with the addition of these industries. First, they approximately triple the amount of releases listed within TRI, with most of the contribution coming from the metal mining and electric utility industries. Second, the addition of treatment, disposal, and recycling facilities, as well as solvent recovery facilities, means that TRI transfers are more likely to have another TRI facility as their destination. Therefore, totals of both releases and transfers from multiple facilities are more likely to involve double counting, as transfers from one facility become releases at the transfer destination. EPA estimates the extent of this double counting in its Public Data Release, and subtracts it from its totals of onsite releases plus offsite "releases" (transfers to disposal). RTK NET has followed suit within some of the quantities that it presents in order to match EPA.
For the 1995 data year, a Certification Statement (Form A) was added to TRI. This was added, in response to lobbying by industry, to permit facilities to avoid reporting if their total releases and production-related waste were less than 500 pounds. A facility filing a Certification Statement must report its name and address and the name of the chemical but does not have to reveal release, transfer, or waste information.
A large number (about 240) of individual chemicals were also added to TRI reporting starting in 1995. The reporting guidance for hydrochloric acid was changed so that quantities of this chemical reported before this year are not comparable to those reported during or after this year.
In 1994, Federal facilities were required to report by Executive Order. About 30 individual chemicals were also added to TRI reporting starting in this year. The reporting guidance for ammonia and sulfuric acid was changed so that quantities of chemicals reported before this year are not comparable to those reported during or after this year.
Data for this year adds data elements required by the Pollution Prevention Act. These elements include recycling and energy recovery methods on-site, source reduction methods, quantities of waste generated (both production- related and non-production-related), and a production ratio to show relative production levels between one year and the next. The production-related waste generation quantities, reported in Section 8 of the Form R, are subdivided into quantities released on and off site, quantities burned for energy recovery on and off site, quantities treated on and off site, and quantities released onsite or disposed of off-site. All of these quantities are projected for the next two years after the data year.
Starting with 1991, all transfers off-site had to be reported, whether they were for the purposes of recycling, energy recovery, treatment, or disposal. Before this year, only off-site transfers for treatment or disposal had to be reported.
The POTW reporting section was changed so that you can no longer find out how many pounds were transferred to each POTW; you can only find out how much was transferred by a facility to all POTWs. The voluntary Waste Minimization data section was dropped. EPA later removed these 1987-1990 data sections from the database entirely, so that it is no longer possible to retrieve them for historical purposes.
Facility searches retrieve results from individual TRI submissions and then add them up. You can find out about all facilities within a geographic area - a city, county, zip code, or state - find a single facility or multiple facilities owned by a single company, or find facilities within a particular industry or those that release a particular chemical.
Facilities that report to TRI must report the destination of shipments of waste that they send offsite. This report allows you to search for all waste going to a particular destination or geographic area. It also allows you to search for transfers of waste going to particular types of destinations, such as landfills or incinerators. It is different from similar kinds of searches on other sites, because it lets you search by where wastes are being shipped to instead of where they are shipped from.
The advanced search permits you to search by reporting year or range of reporting years. In addition, you can control the output of your search by choosing the level of detail, sort order, and type of output.
If you have any questions, comments, or found any bugs in these reports please either send RTK NET mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 202-234-8494.
TRI data can also be obtained through EPA's Envirofacts and TRI Explorer sites, among others.