30th Anniversary of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program
October 17, 2016, marked the 30th anniversary of the Toxics Release Inventory's creation under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
By making information about industrial management of toxic chemicals available to the public, community members, researchers, industrial facilities, investors, and government agencies can make more informed decisions that impact human health and the environment. TRI also creates a strong incentive for companies to reduce pollution and be good neighbors in their communities.
On this page:
The Power of Community Right-to-Know: Short overview of the importance of the information collected under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program.
Using Data for Collaborative Action: In Communities: Learn how one community worked together with local companies to reduce air emissions of TRI chemicals.
Using Data for Collaborative Action: At Universities: TRI data serve as the basis for an environmental role-playing game about working collaboratively to address local environmental challenges.
Using Data for Collaborative Action: At Industrial Facilities: A Minneapolis-based bakeware manufacture uses TRI data to identify ways to reduce the use of certain toxic chemicals in its processes and finished products.
EPA asked a variety of people who've been involved with the TRI Program over the years to share their thoughts on its importance.
“People deserve to know what toxic chemicals are being used and released in their backyards, and what companies are doing to prevent pollution. By making that information easily accessible through online tools, maps, and reports, TRI is helping protect our health and environment.” – Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
“In many ways the Toxics Release Inventory has long been one of the crown jewels of federal databases. It has a wealth of data that is simply not available anywhere else and it serves the interests of scholars and professionals, while also providing essential information to citizens who need to know about toxic chemical releases in their communities.” – Dr. Michael Kraft, co-author of Coming Clean: Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance
“TRI has gone from revolution to evolution in the past 30 years. What was a novel experiment in the 1980s is now standard operating procedure as other programs and other countries adopt the right-to-know model, and the TRI Program continues to fine-tune its data collection and community outreach. I wonder what the next few decades will bring?” – David Sarokin, EPA’s Pollution Prevention Program
"TRI helped transform how we think about data, from single media to integrated multimedia, from information for our use to a resource for the public, from a research source to a tool for promoting risk reduction.”- Mike Shapiro, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water
“The Toxics Release Inventory paved the way for Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) programs and Right-to-Know initiatives worldwide. I commend the U.S. EPA for its hard work over the past 30 years and encourage the TRI Program to continue to evolve in close cooperation with all stakeholders and agents of change―communities, NGOs, industry, state/local DEQs, researchers, and the media―as this cooperation is key to raising awareness of and preventing pollution.” – Danielle Vallée, North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation
"Having to report and having to keep a closer eye on the chemicals and the processes that we use offers an insight so that we can look at the bigger picture and plan ahead to make reductions." – Bette Danielson, Safety and Environmental Affairs Manager at Nordic Ware
“TRI is the cornerstone of the open transmission of environmental information in the United States. Numerous federal, state, local, and private sector programs have come along since 1986 that have been shaped by work that has gone into the TRI. It remains a gem among EPA’s numerous programs.” – Dr. Mark Stephan, co-author of Coming Clean: Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance
“It is not exaggerating to say that TRI has been an incredible boon to researchers working on environmental policy. It has allowed for sophisticated analyses of everything from environmental justice issues to ecological degradation in suburban areas. It is a program that keeps getting better and keeps offering a wealth of data to those of us in academia. We can’t thank you enough.” – Dr. Mark Stephan, co-author of Coming Clean: Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance
"A person from a local community group could now meet with the manager of an industrial plant and have real data at their fingertips." – John Chelen, Chairman of Hampshire Research Institute
"TRI provided a great start for understanding the environmental layout of our community." – Dr. Erica Holloman, Southeast CARE Coalition
"Informed about toxic chemicals, citizens can play an important role in helping their communities achieve tangible results in protecting public health and the environment." – William K. Reilly, Former EPA Administrator
“I am so grateful to have been a TRI University Challenge partner. It was awesome to be able to bring updated data and EPA staff expertise into my classroom. It was incredibly enriching for students, and will forever change the way I teach and research. Inspired by working with the TRI, students have continued independent research and honors thesis research on environmental policy and pollution prevention. TRI is also instrumental in understanding environmental risks and promoting environmental justice and industry accountability.” – Lisa Jordan, TRI University Challenge partner from Drew University
"The TRI offers many lessons: Information provision works. Ideas and policy innovations spread. Regulators and the regulated learn over time." – James T. Hamilton, author of Revelation through Regulation
“The TRI Program provides a critical tool for informing and empowering communities to hold polluters accountable. I applaud EPA’s efforts to adapt TRI to technological advances and make the TRI data as accessible as possible.” – U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr.
“After 30 years, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act has exceeded expectations in driving down the use and release of toxic chemicals. This law created EPA’s TRI Program and has given concerned citizens, researchers, and others access to information that should be a basic right to know. While it was a new approach in 1986, today more than fifty countries have established their own registries, using the TRI as a model. These registries, in the U.S. and abroad, have allowed companies to learn best practices from each other and, simply by shining a spotlight on releases of toxic chemicals, have led to dramatic reductions.” – U.S. Senator Tom Udall
“When TRI became a reality, our communities and our citizens gained a powerful new tool for defending their health, their environment, and the health of their children. Serving the public’s right-to-know, ensuring that our data are based on the best science and full transparency, and making sure that they are as accessible as possible are critical to everything we do at the EPA. That is why TRI is an indispensable part of fulfilling our mission to protect the health of the American people.” - Lisa P. Jackson, Former EPA Administrator