Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)

Years Available
1987 to present
Mode of Collection
Surveillance data: passive data collection.
The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) compiles data on the quantities of chemicals included on the TRI list of toxic chemicals that are released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste by certain industrial and federal facilities. It also provides data on pollution prevention activities reported by these facilities, EPA makes these data available to the public through downloadable files and several data access tools. The goal of TRI is to provide communities with information about toxic chemical releases and waste management activities in their communities, and to support informed decision making at all levels by industry, government, non-governmental organizations, and the public. As of 2020, the TRI chemical list consists of 767 individually listed chemicals and 33 chemical categories. Facilities that are subject to annual TRI reporting include federal facilities, and facilities in the manufacturing, metal mining, coal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste treatment sectors, among others.
Selected Content
Facility name and location, chemical identification, on-site release quantities, off-site transfer quantities for release and disposal, summary pollution prevention quantities.
Industrial facilities are required to report to the TRI program if they: (1) are in an industry sector subject to TRI reporting, (e.g., manufacturing, mining, electric power generation); (2) employ 10 or more full-time equivalent employees; and (3) manufacture, process, or otherwise use a TRI-listed chemical in quantities above threshold levels in a given year. Federal facilities meeting criteria 2 and 3 must also file TRI reports. Each year, facilities submit reports for each TRI-listed chemical manufactured, processed, or used in quantities above the reporting threshold through TRI-Meweb, EPA's online reporting system. Among other information, a report includes the quantities of a TRI chemical released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. Reports must be submitted by July 1st to both EPA and the state in which the facility is located (or to the appropriate tribe).
Response Rates and Sample Size
In 2018, more than 21,000 facilities submitted TRI data to EPA.
Interpretation Issues
The number of chemicals included on the Toxics Release Inventory has increased since 1987. Some chemicals have been removed from the TRI list. When conducting trend analyses in which year-to-year comparisons of TRI data are made, it is best to consider only those chemicals that have been on the TRI chemical list for all the years studied to maximize consistency in the year-to-year comparisons. No changes to the TRI list of toxic chemicals occurred between 2017 and 2018. The TRI list of chemicals is the same for both years. TRI chemicals vary widely in toxicity, meaning that some low-volume releases of highly toxic chemicals might pose higher risks than high-volume releases of less toxic chemicals. The release or disposal of chemicals also does not necessarily result in the exposure of people or ecosystems. The quantity of TRI chemicals released to the environment is only one component of the risk posed by these releases. Additionally, release quantities do not include components of risk such as environmental fate and exposure.
Not all pollutants released into the environment are included on the TRI chemical list. Particulate matter for example, is not included on the TRI chemical list, nor are most greenhouse gases. Additionally, not all sources of releases of TRI chemicals are compiled in the TRI database. Facilities that release TRI chemicals but that do not meet TRI reporting requirements do not have to report such releases. These include facilities in non-covered industry sectors, or that have less than 10 employee equivalents, or do not exceed the annual manufacture, process, or otherwise use activity thresholds for a TRI chemical. Emissions from motor vehicles are not included in TRI reporting. Moreover, TRI chemicals can be released by the public by use or disposal of household consumer products that contain TRI chemicals. Consumer releases of TRI chemicals are not included in the TRI data.