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Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program

Mission, Vision and Goals of the TRI Program

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What are the mission and vision of the TRI Program?

The TRI Program's mission is to provide the public with information about TRI chemicals, including releases, other waste management (e.g., recycling), and pollution prevention from TRI-reporting facilities. To achieve this mission, the TRI Program:

  • Develops regulations, guidance, and policies;
  • Collects, manages and promotes the use of TRI data;
  • Informs the public about possible exposure to TRI chemicals and related health and ecological risks, and highlights information facilities submit on reducing the use and release of these chemicals; and
  • Assists government agencies, researchers, and others in research and data gathering.

The vision for the Toxics Release Inventory is that TRI is recognized as a premier resource for accessing information on possible exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution prevention activities that can reduce this exposure.

What are the goals of the TRI Program?

Goal 1: TRI covers chemicals and sectors of concern to data users

TRI currently covers 767 chemicals and 33 chemical categories and a wide range of industry sectors, many of which have been covered since the original Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) established the TRI Program. EPA wants to ensure that the program covers all industry sectors and chemicals of concern and, accordingly, consistently examines and evaluates additional chemicals and sectors to enhance the TRI database for data users.

EPA is proactively considering the National Toxicology Program, international Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) programs, and implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (2016) to identify possible modifications to the TRI chemical and sector listings. EPCRA also provided EPA the authority to add chemicals and industry sectors based on statutory criteria. Interested parties may petition EPA to request that chemicals or sectors be added or removed.

Goal 2: TRI data are credible with quality suitable for TRI data uses

The quality of TRI information must be suitable to support the common uses of the information. EPA has taken steps to ensure data quality from the inception of the program and provides a number of resources to help facilities prepare their forms correctly and to correct errors when discovered. EPA also conducts a number of data quality checks on forms that are received.

The TRI Program is committed to an on-going program of activities to maintain and improve TRI data quality. To help facility representatives understand TRI reporting obligations, TRI provides a reporting hotline to answer questions. EPA is also developing improved guidance and on-line tools that may eventually reduce the reliance on the phone hotline.

The TRI Program currently conducts reviews of submitted forms to identify potential errors and data quality issues and is committed to helping facilities reduce the number of forms that require a correction. Further, as pollutant monitoring is becoming more common in many of the media programs, we expect that the best available data for TRI reporting will include more data based on measurements.

Goal 3: TRI information is accessible, understandable, and is used to promote environmentally beneficial dialogue and decision making

TRI is meant to be a resource for the public, and increasing recognition and awareness of the program among potential users should lead to increased use of the information for a positive influence to improve public and environmental health. EPA continually seeks to make TRI data easier to access, understand and use through its reporting software and data tools.

TRI is often cited in articles and journals as an information source. Maintaining and improving access to TRI information through various online tools and applications is essential to the program.

Furthermore, the program’s intent is to facilitate the understanding of TRI chemical releases by placing chemical release amounts in context. This means providing the public with information about the health effects associated with the chemicals including toxicity weightings, risk-screening scores, and chemical management trends by facilities.

What do the TRI Program's mission and vision mean for communities?

Since the creation of the TRI Program, TRI information has provided a way for citizens to better understand possible sources of pollution in their communities. This better understanding can be the basis for actions, such as communications with facilities releasing chemicals to the environment and with regulatory authorities that have oversight responsibilities. This concept of citizen empowerment is summed up by the slogan, "A Right to Know, A Basis to Act.”

It is important to note that TRI information is most useful when presented in context. Information that is often helpful to citizens in addition to TRI quantity information includes the health effects of the chemical in question, how the chemical is managed, and whether a relevant human exposure is likely. Additionally, many parties including industry are often interested in whether releases of a chemical can be minimized, reduced, or eliminated at its source. The TRI Program is committed to presenting as much of this information as possible to help inform the public.