US toxic substance releases increase dramatically

The US Environmental Protection Agency has just released its analysis of 2010 releases of toxic substances to the environment. Overall releases of toxic substances are up 16% over 2009.

Some of the analyses by substance are also somewhat disappointing. Total releases of carcinogenic chemicals increased 67% between 2009 and 2010 but decreased by 5% from 2001 to 2010. Releases of dioxins increased 18% from 2009 to 2010 but decreased by 65% from 2001 to 2010 with the chemicals and primary metals sectors being major contributors. Industry managed almost 1.2 billion pounds of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) substances in production-related waste in 2010, an increase of 19% over 2009 but
an overall reduction of 10% since 2001. Lead and lead compounds accounted for 97% (1.1 billion pounds) of the 2010 amount. Mercury and mercury compounds, polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), certain pesticides, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds and other chemicals made up the remainder.

The detailed report, including analyses by industry sector, is available at  and click on National Analysis.

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