EPA Announces Increased Toxic Elements Reporting and Transparency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday that it plans to improve transparency regarding toxic elements through the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) to further its responsibility to “protect human health and the environment.” 

The announcement includes expanding the TRI facility to include ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilizers, adding TRI reporting requirements for natural gas processing facilities and per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and allowing more community access to TRI data. 

“Every person in the United States has a right to know about what chemicals are released into their communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a press release. “By requiring new and more data on chemical releases from facilities, EPA and its partners will be better equipped to protect the health of every individual, including people of color and low-income communities that are often located near these facilities but have been left out of the conversation for too long.”

This announcement addresses EtO, which reportedly can cause cancer in humans and harm to the environment. It is used by contract sterilization facilities to make other chemicals and sterilize medical equipment. The EPA said that it will make more information available publicly regarding EtO releases as part of a TRI facility expansion. The sterilization facilities will eventually be required to report to the TRI and release public information about EtO releases. 

Natural gas processing facilities, which were previously not covered in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to Know Act, will be added to TRI reporting, increasing availability of information about chemical releases from the facilities; this follows the passing of a 2017 EPA rule. The press release cited that millions of people in the United States live within 30 miles of a natural gas processing facility. 

The news release explained that it is going to include a demographic profile section on the TRI website to show income profiles and racial makeup of the areas around TRI locations, and launch a Spanish version of the website. Additionally, it will promote use of pollution information and encourage communities to engage with facilities to build community health and reduce exposure to toxic elements.