Air Releases in the 2016 TRI National Analysis
Air emissions reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) continue to decline, serving as a primary driver of decreased total releases. Air releases include both fugitive air emissionsfugitive or non-point air emissionsAll releases of the EPCRA Section 313 chemical to the air that are not released through stacks, vents, ducts, pipes, or any other confined air stream. and point source air emissionsstack or point air emissionsAll releases of the EPCRA Section 313 chemical to the air that occur through stacks, confined vents, ducts, pipes, or other confined air stream.. This graph shows the trend in the pounds of chemicals released to air as reported to TRI.
From 2006 to 2016:
- Air releases declined significantly, serving as a primary driver of decreases in total releases.
- Air releases decreased by 58% (829 million pounds).
- Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrogen fluoride, methanol, toluene and styrene were the chemicals with the greatest reductions in air releases since 2006.
- The decrease is driven by electric utilities due to: decreased emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPsHAPsChemicals that cause serious health and environmental effects. Health effects include cancer, birth defects, nervous system problems and death due to massive accidental releases such as the one at the pesticide plant in Bhopal, India. Hazardous air pollutants are released by sources such as chemical plants, dry cleaners, printing plants, and motor vehicles (cars, trucks, buses etc.)) emissions, such as hydrochloric acid; a shift from coal to other fuel sources; implementation of regulations; and the installation of control technologies at coal-fired power plants. Note that only those electric utilities that combust coal or oil to generate power for distribution into commerce are covered under TRI reporting requirements.
- Electric utilities accounted for more than 85% of nationwide reductions in air releases of hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid from 2006 to 2016.
- Air releases of OSHA carcinogens also decreased; see the Air Releases of OSHA Carcinogens figure.
- Air releases of other chemicals of special concern, including lead and mercury, also decreased; see the Chemicals of Special Concern section.
- Air releases are often regulated by other programs as well, such as under Title V of the Clean Air Act, which requires major sources of air pollutants to obtain and comply with an operating permit.
- Ammonia, followed by methanol, accounted for the greatest air releases of TRI chemicals.
- Since 2015, air releases decreased by 11%.
This page was published in January 2018 and uses the 2016 TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in October 2017.