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TRI for Tribal Communities
On this page:
- Why should tribes be interested in TRI?
- How can tribes access TRI data?
- Are tribes at risk from toxic chemical releases on or near their lands?
- What can tribes do about toxic chemical releases on or near their lands?
- Is there help available for tribes concerned about toxic chemical releases?
TRI tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. U.S. facilities in different industry sectors must report how much of each chemical is released to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery and treatment. (A "release" of a chemical means that it is emitted to the air or water, or placed in some type of land disposal.) The information submitted by facilities is compiled annually in the Toxics Release Inventory. TRI helps support informed decision-making by industry, government, non-governmental organizations and the public.
The information presented here is part of a larger effort to inform tribes of the availability of TRI data and other resources that may help assess tribal environmental and health concerns.
Why should tribes be interested in TRI?
TRI can help tribes:
- Identify sources of toxic chemical releases in or near Indian country, Alaska Native Villages, or other areas of interest to tribes;
- Track increases or reductions of toxic chemical releases from facilities over time; and
- Prioritize efforts to reduce pollution from facilities located on or near Indian lands.
For more information:
- Learn about the rule that provides tribal governments with more opportunities to participate in the TRI Program.
- View the list of TRI facilities located within Indian country (PDF)
- View the presentation slides from the webinar, "Releases and Other Management of Toxic Chemicals on or Near Tribal Lands" (PDF)
How can tribes access TRI data?
Several tools are available for accessing and analyzing TRI data. The last two listed below include tribally-relevant search options:
- myRTK: Geographically view TRI facilities in a selected area and obtain summary-level facility information including facility rankings, quantities of chemicals released and associated potential health effects, and compliance data. This is a simple tool designed for mobile devices in English and Spanish.
- TRI Explorer: Generate reports on releases, transfers, and waste managed that can be compared across facilities, chemicals, geographic areas, industries (NAICS code) or reporting years. Includes ability to search data by tribal boundaries.
- TRI.NET: Build customized TRI data queries using menus or an adhoc query option. Users can download, map or overlay results with other data sources. This is a downloadable application that includes the ability to identify facilities that may be of interest to tribes.
- View the full list of TRI tools and other related resources
Are tribes at risk from toxic chemical releases on or near their lands?
The answer depends on many factors, such as:
- The toxicity of the chemical(s) released
- The quantity of the chemical(s) released
- The route of exposure (air, water, land)
- How often a person was exposed
- The fate of the chemical in the environment
The information in TRI can answer some, but not all, of these questions. TRI data provide estimates of quantities of toxic chemicals that are released to the environment, as well as information on how those chemicals are managed prior to or instead of being released. These data can be used to identify potential toxic chemical hazards on or near Indian lands; however, release estimates alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or to calculate potential risks to human health and the environment. TRI data, in conjunction with other information, such as the toxicity of the chemical, the release medium (e.g., air, water, land), and site-specific conditions, can be used as a starting point in evaluating the potential risks to human health and the environment.
TRI chemicals vary widely in toxicity and have different potential to remain in the environment, so that quantities released or managed by a facility are not always the best indication of whether a chemical may pose harm to humans or the environment. Many facilities limit the contamination and potential human exposure by managing the chemicals in certain ways, e.g., in well designed and managed landfills.
For more information, see Factors to Consider When Using TRI Data (PDF).
What can tribes do about toxic chemical releases on or near their lands?
- Find out if there is a TRI facility on or near tribal lands using the TRI Explorer tool
(click the link above and select tribal lands of interest under "Geographic Location" section)
- Find out if a facility of concern is in compliance with EPA laws and regulations using EPA's Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) application.
- Report a suspected violation of environmental laws or regulations
Is there help available for tribes concerned about toxic chemical releases?
- TRI Regional Coordinators: Tribes concerned about toxic chemicals released from specific facilities may contact the TRI coordinator in their region.
- EPA Regional Indian Program Coordinators: Tribes are encouraged to contact the Indian program coordinator in their region with questions about facilities in Indian country or in proximity to Indian country, Alaska Native Villages or other tribal communities.
Others Informational Resources:
- EPA's EJSCREEN: Create maps and generate detailed reports based on various geographic areas and datasets. Includes data from multiple factors that may affect public and environmental health within a community or region.
- TOXMAP by National Library of Medicine: Visually explore TRI and Superfund data using national, regional, or local GIS maps.
- Tox Town by National Library of Medicine: Find out about environmental health concerns where you live, work, and play.