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Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) Model

RSEI and TRI Emissions Data

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Users of EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) model should be aware that the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) captures a significant portion of toxic chemicals in wastes that are managed by industrial facilities, but it does not cover all toxic chemicals or all industry sectors of the U.S. economy.

Facilities that report to TRI are typically larger and are from industry sectors involved in manufacturing, metal mining, electric power generation, and hazardous waste treatment. Federal facilities are also required to report to TRI. While TRI reporting is required by law, the quantities of chemicals reported to TRI are self-reported by facilities using readily available data.

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Who reports to TRI?

Reporting forms must be submitted by owners and operators of facilities that meet the following criteria:

  • The facility falls within a TRI-reportable industry sector or is federally-owned or operated;
  • The facility has 10 or more full-time (or equivalent) employees; and
  • The facility manufactures, processes or otherwise uses (MPOU) a TRI-listed chemical in an amount above the TRI reporting threshold during a calendar year (thresholds vary depending upon chemical).

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What chemicals are reported to TRI?

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.

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The current TRI toxic chemical list contains over 600 individually listed chemicals and chemical categories (including four categories containing 68 specifically listed chemicals). In 2017, 21,456 facilities reported to TRI. RSEI modeled releases or transfers from almost 19,000 facilities in 2017. The remaining facilities not modeled by RSEI only reported releases and transfers that RSEI does not model, such as land releases, underground injection, or transfers off-site to recycling.

What are the chemical reporting thresholds?

  • The facility manufactures or processes a non-PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic) and listed chemical in excess of 25,000 pounds per year; or
  • The facility “otherwise uses” a non-PBT listed chemical in excess of 10,000 pounds per year.
  • 20 PBT chemicals have lower thresholds of 10 pounds or 100 pounds per year; dioxins and dioxin-like compounds has a threshold of 0.1 gram per year.

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What are important sources of potential environmental health risk?

A low RSEI Score indicates low potential concern from reported TRI releases, but other kinds of environmental risk may still be present that are not related to TRI releases, including:

  • Releases not covered by TRI:
    • Facilities not covered by TRI (e.g., dry cleaners, small auto body shops).
    • Chemicals not covered by TRI.
    • Air pollution from cars and other mobile sources.
    • Municipal wastewater treatment outflows, except for waste volumes transferred from TRI-reporting facilities.
    • Nonpoint source water pollution (runoff from cities and agricultural areas).
  • Other sources of exposure to chemicals:
    • Groundwater contamination
    • Hazardous waste contamination (e.g., in Superfund sites or river and lake sediments).
    • Indoor air pollution.
    • Worker exposure.
    • Deposition from air releases onto water bodies or land.
    • Exposure from food or consumer products.
  • Other types of health risks:
    • Flammable or potentially explosive chemicals transported or stored by facilities.
    • Microbial contamination in water.

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What are other sources of environmental information?

Other sources of environmental information can provide information about facilities, chemicals and releases not covered by TRI, as well as other kinds of environmental risks. The following sources may be useful when investigating situations of potential concern.

Multi-Program Databases: These sites are useful for screening-level investigations because they bring together data from many individual EPA programs, including some that are listed in the next section:

Envirofacts: A centralized point of access for major EPA data systems, including systems for water and air releases, brownfields, greenhouse gases, drinking water and hazardous waste. Query capabilities range from simple facility look-ups by name or program identifier to complex queries with multiple variables.

Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO): An online tool providing integrated compliance and enforcement information for about 800,000 regulated facilities nationwide. Its features range from simple to advanced, catering to users who want to conduct broad analyses as well as those who need to perform complex searches. ECHO allows you to find and download information on permit data, inspection dates and findings, violations, enforcement actions, and penalties assessed.

EJSCREEN: An environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators. EJSCREEN users choose a geographic area; the tool then provides summarized demographic and environmental information for that area. 

Other useful sites-

The National Emissions Inventory (NEI): A comprehensive and detailed estimate of air emissions of criteria pollutants, criteria precursors, and hazardous air pollutants from air emissions sources. The NEI is released every three years based primarily upon data provided by state, local, and tribal air agencies for sources in their jurisdictions and supplemented by data developed by EPA. The NEI is built using the Emissions Inventory System (EIS) first to collect the data from state, local, and tribal air agencies and then to blend that data with other data sources. NEI contains emissions data for more than 97,000 facilities, approximately 10,000 of which also report to TRI.

National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA): EPA's ongoing comprehensive evaluation of air toxics in the United States, developed as a state-of-the-science screening tool for state/local/tribal Agencies to prioritize pollutants, emission sources and locations of interest for further study in order to gain a better understanding of risks. Assessments include estimates of cancer and noncancer health effects based on chronic exposure from outdoor sources, including assessments of noncancer health effects for diesel particulate matter (PM). Assessments provide a snapshot of the outdoor air quality and the risks to human health that would result if air toxic emissions levels remained unchanged. NATA uses emissions data from NEI.

Risk Management Plans (RMPs): The RMP Rule implements Section 112(r) of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments and requires facilities that use extremely hazardous substances to develop a Risk Management Plan. These plans must be revised and resubmitted to EPA every five years. RMPs are available in EPA Federal Reading Rooms.

Water Pollutant Loading Tool: An online tool designed to help determine who is discharging, what pollutants they are discharging and how much, and where they are discharging. The tool calculates pollutant loadings from permit and discharge monitoring report (DMR) data from EPA's Integrated Compliance Information System for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (ICIS-NPDES). Data are available from the year 2007 to the present. The tool also includes wastewater pollutant discharge data from TRI, for the years 2007 to the most recent reporting year. For 2017, the tool includes over 70,000 facilities, compared to almost 7,000 TRI facilities reporting water discharges or transfers to POTWs in 2017.

AirData: The AirData website gives you access to air quality data collected at outdoor monitors across the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The data comes primarily from the Air Quality System (AQS) database. 

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR): Database containing reporting on basic exposure-related information on the types, quantities and uses of chemical substances produced domestically and imported into the United States. It constitutes the most comprehensive source of basic screening-level, exposure-related information on chemicals available to EPA, and is used by the Agency to protect the public from potential chemical risks. In 2016, manufacturers (including importers) reported data for more than 8,000 chemicals.

Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP): Program that collects annual greenhouse gas information from large industrial facilities from the top emitting sectors of the U.S. economy. The GHGRP has four years of data for most sectors and is available in various formats on the GHGRP website and through Envirofacts. In 2017, more than 8,000 facilities reported to the GHGRP.

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) programs: EPCRA was created in 1986 to help communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances by requiring hazardous chemical emergency planning by federal, state and local governments, Indian tribes, and industry and industry reporting on the storage, use and releases of hazardous chemicals to federal, state, and local governments.

Tier II: Under Section 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, facilities are required to report the presence of hazardous materials that are above certain thresholds.

State EPCRA Data: This website provides links to each state’s requirements and procedures for EPCRA Tier II reporting.

Other EPCRA: Other provisions of the 1986 rule and later amendments provide for the availability of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), notification of accidental releases, and local and state emergency planning.

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How does TRI compare to other data collection programs?

Information on facilities exempt from TRI reporting might be available in EPA databases compiled by other programs that regulate the facilities, some of which are described above. Each of these programs has different requirements for who must report and the data and frequency of the reporting; however, there is overlap between the facilities in these databases and the facilities that report to TRI. Users who want to find information that is not available in TRI can check these other databases. For example, the NEI can be used to find estimates of air releases for facilities that do not report to TRI or for mobile sources, which are not covered by TRI. Find more information on how TRI relates to other programs.

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How are RSEI data different from TRI data?

RSEI uses the same set of TRI data used in the TRI National Analysis, but makes some adjustments because of modeling needs:

  • Off-site Facility Consolidation: RSEI tries to match text records describing off-site facilities that are receiving transfers from reporting facilities.
  • Off-site and On-site Facility Latitude/Longitude Revisions: Some manual verification of location for certain facilities is necessary to ensure accurate modeling, so in some few cases, the RSEI location may not match the location listed in EPA’s Facility Registry Service (FRS).
  • Adjustments for Double-Counting: TRI adjusts for double-counting of releases from treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facilities regulated under the federal Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that may receive TRI-reported transfers and then report the same chemical as a release after treatment. Beginning with Version 2.3.5, RSEI makes a simplified double-counting adjustment, by dropping off-site transfers to incineration where the receiving facility is also a TRI reporter. The adjustment is performed for reporting years 1998 and later, since 1998 is the first year these facilities were required to report to TRI.
  • RSEI only models certain releases and transfers reported to TRI (direct releases to air and water, transfers to POTWs and transfers to off-site incineration). In some applications, such as EasyRSEI, “RSEI Modeled Pounds” may be less than total pounds (or “TRI Pounds”), because only pounds included in modeled releases and transfers are counted.
  • Note that in previous versions of EasyRSEI, each facility was assigned a single set of North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Starting with Version 2.3.6., RSEI is adopting the TRI method of using the NAICS codes for each Form R submission. Using this method, releases from the same facility may be counted in different industries, if those releases are reported under different NAICS codes. RSEI continues to assign a single NAICS code to each facility to determine modeling parameters (included in the facility table as "ModeledNAICS").
  • Also beginning with Version 2.3.6, RSEI is including all of the chemical entries reported to TRI, including entries like “Trade Secret” and “Mixture” which cannot be modeled. Including all entries ensures aggregated pounds in RSEI will match the totals in other TRI tools.

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