A Toxic Flood
A Toxic Flood: Why We Need Stronger Regulations to Protect Public Health from Industrial Water Pollution
Industrial facilities across the United States released more than 200 million pounds of toxic chemicals into our nation’s waterways in 2009. Many of these chemicals are known to increase the risk of cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and a range of other health issues. In addition to chemicals known to be toxic, industry used and disposed of tens of thousands of other chemicals that have not been adequately evaluated and whose potential risks to human health are thus unknown.
The public has a right to know what chemicals they may be exposed to in daily life. Embodying this right to know, federal law does require most but not all industrial facilities to report releases into the environment of about 650 chemicals that are known to be toxic.Through the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides public access to the resulting data on industrial chemical releases.The reality of this industrial water pollution indicates a serious problem with the effectiveness of federal environmental regulations that are supposed to protect public health.Industrial pollution is threatening the quality of our nation’s water resources and the health of our communities.
In this report, 2009 TRI data and the RSEI model are used to identify the entities most responsible for the total hazard from industrial water pollution in the United States.The report is based on research conducted at the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts Amherst to compile a ranking of the Toxic 100 Water Polluters.The report shows that leading energy and chemical manufacturing companies are dumping massive amounts of toxic chemicals into surface waters, putting in danger the lives and wellbeing of those exposed to the resulting pollution.