TRI for Researchers
The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) is a unique resource for learning about toxic chemical releases, waste management practices and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities. The following information on reviewing and using TRI data may be helpful to those using the data for research purposes, such as academicians, scientists, and journalists.
On this page:
- Important considerations for using TRI data
- Obtaining TRI data for research purposes
- Helpful references for doing TRI-related research
All of these important points are explained in more detail in Factors to Consider When Using TRI, which is available in English and Spanish.
- The TRI Program covers many—but not all—industry sectors and chemicals. Additionally, some facilities within a covered sector do not meet TRI reporting criteria.
- The quantities of TRI chemical releases reported by facilities are not necessarily an indicator of potential human health risks posed by the chemicals. Risk is determined by many factors. EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) model, however, can help you explore potential relative chronic human health risks associated with chemical releases from TRI-reporting facilities.
- Most TRI data reflect permitted industrial releases. Most releases of TRI chemicals that result from industrial activities at facilities that report to the TRI Program are covered by regulatory requirements designed to minimize potential harm to human health and the environment. Facilities that meet TRI reporting criteria are also required to report accidental or one-time releases not associated with normal production processes.
- TRI data do not reflect all uses of a particular chemical. On the TRI Form R, facilities report release and other waste management quantities, not the quantities indicating how much was manufactured, processed, or otherwise used. Quantities of TRI-listed chemicals incorporated into products distributed in commerce are not reflected on the TRI reporting form.
- TRI-reported releases may or may not be the largest source of chemical emissions in a particular location. Consider facilities that are not required to report to the TRI Program and chemical emissions sources not covered by the TRI Program, such as vehicle exhaust and the use of household products.
- TRI reporting requirements, covered chemicals, and covered industry sectors have changed over time. Be aware that these changes can influence release and other waste management quantities. Year-to-year comparisons should be based on a consistent set of chemicals.
- New TRI data are published each July and updated several times during the year. Be aware that the data you're using may change if EPA receives revisions, withdrawals, or late submissions from facilities. When referencing TRI data, note the source of the data and the date on which you accessed it.
- TRI is one of many sources of environmental data collected by EPA. See the "How TRI Relates to Other EPA Programs" section of the "Learn About TRI" page for more information.
In some rare instances, a facility may not be physically located in the city listed on its TRI reporting form. Facilities are required to report a city name, but some facilities, such as certain metal mines, are located a substantial distance from the city. Researchers should confirm the location of any facility.
TRI data are available through various online tools and in .csv and .txt files that you can download and import into Excel and other spreadsheet applications. The online tools and the data files are accessible from the TRI Data and Tools webpage. If you plan to use the downloadable files, please first refer to the corresponding user guides for important instructions and detailed descriptions of all of the data elements.
For questions about accessing the data in the format you need, or for other related questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about RSEI data, please use the "Contact Us" link on the RSEI website.