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Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program

TRI Fotonovela Slideshow - English

A playground and sports field abutting a grouping of buildings with smokestacks.
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The Diaz Family and Neighbors: two brothers, Julio and Johnny; their parents, Rosie and Cesar; two neighbors, Lupe and Dolores; Miguel who works at the factory.
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Julio and Johnny kick a soccer ball together while walking with their father, Cesar, in the park.
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Rosie, the boy’s mother, congratulates them on their game saying 'Wow, Julio, you played really well!'.  Julio says 'Thanks, it was a hard game. I’m pretty hungry now!'
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Rosie directs the boys to a table with food saying, “Don’t worry, Julio, we have lots of food here for you and your team.”  Julio asks, “Hey, Mom?” Rosie responds “Yes, Julio?
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Julio points to a building with smokestacks on the other side of the park and asks Rosie, “Who lives there? That’s the biggest chimney I have ever seen!
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Johnny explains to Julio, “That’s not a house, silly. It’s a factory.” Julio asks, “Why does a factory need a chimney?
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Cesar explains to Julio, “It’s called a smokestack, son. Smoke, steam, or even toxic chemicals can come out of smokestacks and go up into the air.” Dolores asks Rosie, “Rosie, do you wonder what’s coming out of that smokestack?
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'Yes, because this soccer field is so close to it, and I worry about the kids.  I wish there was something I could do to learn more about that factory and other ones around here, but I don’t know where to start.
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Dolores says, 'It seems like we should have the right to know about toxic chemicals coming out of factories in our neighborhood
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Miguel speaks to the group, 'Hi, how is everybody? You know, I work at that factory! There is a law that says that certain factories must tell us about how much pollution they are creating. They must also tell us about what types of chemicals they are producing and sending out of their smokestacks, out of pipes into the water or onto the land.
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Julio says, 'But I don’t see any smoke coming out of that smokestack.
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Miguel says, 'You don’t have to see smoke. Some chemicals come out as fumes that you can’t see and others come out and spread into the water and onto land'
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Rosie responds, 'But how can we find out about the toxic chemicals that come out of the factory?'  Miguel, points to his phone while answering Rosie, 'From a website run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called TRI! TRI stands for 'Toxics Release Inventory'. Congress created the TRI in the 1980’s as part of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.'
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Miguel tells the group, 'I can show you on my smartphone right here. You can look it up on a computer too.'
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Miguel’s phone is open to the EPA website, he explains, 'Look, all I do is type in, scroll to the bottom and then type in our street address, and we’ll see which factories around here reported toxic chemical releases.' Rosie says, 'Wow!'
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Julio asks, 'What does it say, Mom?', Rosie responds, 'Well, it says here the factory released 800 pounds of one chemical to the air and 450 pounds of another chemical into the water.'
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Miguel tells the group, 'But there are lots of environmental laws that factories must follow to control their toxic chemical releases and to protect the environment.'
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Miguel says, 'It shows here on my smartphone what EPA is doing to make sure that factories are following the law. Even if a factory is doing what the law says it has to do, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ask questions. We can work with our neighbors to encourage factories like that one to do more to protect the environment.'
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Julio asks, 'Why does the factory use all those chemicals in the first place?' Miguel responds, 'Factories use chemicals to make cars, refrigerators, computers, and other things that we use every day.'
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Lupe asks, “Miguel, won’t those chemicals make the kids sick?”  Miguel responds, “Well, TRI tells us a lot about chemicals that come out of many factories. This is very important. But, it can’t tell us if those chemicals enter our bodies or cause health problems. That would require more information.
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The TRI website at can point you to where you can learn more about toxic chemicals, pollution and human health.”  Lupe asks, “How come I don’t see anything about all the smelly trucks passing by here when I look up TRI information?
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Miguel responds, 'TRI doesn’t cover all types of pollution.  You won’t find information in TRI, for example, about pollution from cars and trucks, gas stations, and lead paint in homes. But TRI can help us find out a lot about pollution from many factories. It can also tell us whether or not they are trying to prevent or reduce their pollution.
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Rosie says, 'Thanks, Miguel. I’m going to use a computer at the library to learn more about this.' Johnny adds, 'We can talk to my science teacher too. She knows a lot about environmental issues and she runs an environmental group in town.
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Carla at the health department is also very helpful, and she knows lots of people at other local and state agencies who can help answer your questions.' Cesar says, 'Yes, having this information is so important. And it’s our RIGHT TO KNOW!
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Lupe agrees and jokes, 'It’s also my right to eat! Ok, everybody, let’s have lunch. Our food is getting cold!!!
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Use this link to report a suspected violation of environmental laws and regulations:
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