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Public Access to the Toxics Release Inventory

Source: EPA 1994 Toxics Release Inventory
Public Data Release, Appendix B


According to many, the TRI program is one of the most effective environmental programs ever legislated by Congress and administered by EPA. Its success is due, in large part, to the right-to-know provisions contained in the legislation itself. By requiring that the resulting data be made publicly available "by electronic and other means," Congress ensured that citizens, the media, environmental advocates, researchers, the business community, and others could influence and evaluate industry's efforts to reduce toxics emissions.

Every year, EPA expands its outreach activities to include new potential users of the data. Through outreach activities, EPA identifies and engages the assistance of organizations to help promote TRI awareness, provide access, and increase data usage. Journalists, national public interest and environmental groups, and state governments continue to be key outreach participants. Libraries in communities all across the U.S., in particular, members of the Federal Depository Library Program, are committed to providing public access to TRI data in a variety of formats. Because the value of TRI increases as more people use it, EPA encourages these organizations to acquaint new users with TRI, help people who already know about TRI to better use and understand the data, and, whenever possible, provide feedback on how to improve TRI products and services.

Many options are available for accessing TRI. EPA offers the data in a variety of common computer and hard copy formats to ensure that everyone can easily use the information. TRI is available on diskette, CD-ROM, and computer bulletin boards. It is available on an on-line national computer database. More and more TRI information is being added to the Internet. TRI reports are available from state government offices as well as from EPA. For each reporting year, many states make their data available before EPA releases data from the national database. You can contact your state EPCRA Coordinator or you can call your EPA Regional TRI Coordinator for assistance. (See listing of Regional coordinators and state EPCRA contacts in Appendix G.) Many other avenues for accessing TRI are described in the following pages.

TRI has proven to be a rich source of data for a broad public audience. For instance, educators are using the data to conduct studies and courses on the environment; labor unions are using the TRI data to improve conditions for workers; and businesses are using the data in many ways -- as a basis for reducing large stocks of toxic chemicals, to cut costs, to improve operations, to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, and for a variety of other reasons. Concerned citizens are a growing user group. These individuals, on their own and through organized groups, are using TRI to raise and answer questions about chemical releases in their communities. States use the national data to compare releases within industries.

In the future, avenues of public access to TRI will continue to grow, and TRI will continue to be an important first step for discovering which chemicals are being manufactured, released, or transferred in communities across the country. The diversity of the groups across the country who use TRI will increase as will the varied uses of the data. TRI will increasingly become the data source used to positively influence the views of companies, legislators, and the public regarding the overall conditions of the nation's environment.

Accessing Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Products and Services

Accessing TRI data is easy. It is published in a wide variety of computer and hard copy formats to ensure that it is readily available. Through outreach activities, EPA identifies organizations in the toxics community to help promote awareness of TRI and use of its data products. TRI data is available online, for purchase from GPO or NTIS, or for use in Federal Depository Libraries across the U.S. In addition, state officials also receive TRI reports from facilities in their jurisdiction, and many states publish reports highlighting local trends. For more information about accessing TRI or obtaining TRI products, call or write: TRI User Support, U.S. EPA, 401 M St., SW. (MS-7407), Washington, DC 20460, (202) 260-1531. Or, visit us at our Web site, http://www.epa.gov.

Assistance Services

The TRI User Support (TRI-US) Service provides general information about the Toxics Release Inventory and support for access to any of the data formats. TRI specialists can help determine the data product best suited for the individual user's needs. The service provides comprehensive search assistance for the TRI on-line and CD-ROM applications. TRI-US provides both NLM/TOXNET and CD-ROM training through short sessions and workshops. Documentation for all TRI products is available from TRI-US. This support service provides referrals to EPA Regional and state TRI contacts and to the libraries where TRI is available. Referrals to TRI resources in other localities are also available.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know (EPCRA) Hotline provides regulatory, policy, and technical assistance to Federal agencies, local and state governments, the public, the regulated community, and other interested parties in response to questions related to EPCRA. The Hotline provides information on the availability of documents related to EPCRA and copies of selected EPCRA documents on a limited basis. As a service to TRI data users, computer-generated facsimiles of TRI reporting forms will be provided upon request. Federal Depository Libraries

TRI products are distributed though the Federal Depository Library Program, a network of 1,400 public and academic libraries located in communities all across the U.S. While librarians in these organizations are not specialists in TRI information, they are often quite knowledgeable about obtaining and using information resources in general. Over 700 depository libraries receive the TRI on CD-ROM. Librarians in these institutions can assist you in searching the database and using other features of the discs, such as printing reports and downloading data from the CD-ROM. More and more depository libraries are allowing patrons to access the Internet using public workstations located in the library.

For more information or to identify the Federal Depository Library nearest you, contact your local library.

Electronic Media

CD-ROMs

This two-disc set contains the complete national TRI, starting with the first inventory in 1987. It also contains reference material on the health and environmental effects of the TRI chemicals. User-friendly software provides the capability to search data by facility, location, chemical, SIC, and many other access points. Other features allow flexibility in printing standard and custom reports, data downloading, and calculating releases for search sets (for example, to calculate average air releases for all pulp and paper manufacturers). Complete documentation, outlining the history of TRI, how it is used, and how to operate the software is included. Discs available from GPO and NTIS are the same, although prices may differ.

For more information, contact:

U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) Superintendent of Documents
P.O. Box 371954
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954
Call: (202) 512-1800
Fax: (202) 512-2250
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

National Technical Information
Service (NTIS)
U.S. Department of Commerce
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161
Call: (703) 487-4650
Fax: (703) 321-8547
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

Diskettes

Selected TRI information is available on diskettes in dBASE (.dbf) or Lotus 1-2-3 (.wk1) format. For each state, one or more diskettes contain the most frequently used TRI data, such as the names, locations, and contacts for reporting facilities; chemical names and CAS numbers; aggregate releases in pounds of chemicals released to air, water, land, and underground injection wells; and total chemical transfers to off-site locations and Publicly Owned Treatment Works. Diskettes for 1991 and later years also contain selected pollution prevention data. A diskette containing Federal facilities nationwide is also available for reporting year 1994. Diskettes are accompanied by user instructions. The cost of diskettes for a single state ranges from $15-$17, depending on the number of disks in the set.

For more information, contact:

U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) Superintendent of Documents
P.O. Box 37082
Washington, DC 20013-7082
Call: (202) 512-1530
Fax: (202) 512-1262
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

On-line Services

National Library of Medicine (NLM) TOXNET System

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) TOXNET System makes TRI accessible to concerned citizens and to businesses and organizations interested in environmental or public health issues. TOXNET offers state-of-the-art, user-friendly, on-line searching. The system features a variety of on-line user assistance features, a flexible command language, and "free text" search capability. Users can print specific portions of the records either on-line or off-line, and there are a wide variety of customized text options built into the system. Cross-file searching allows users to search multiple years of TRI data simultaneously. The menu-driven search package allows individuals with limited computer skills to use the TRI on-line database efficiently and effectively. Information about the health and environmental effects of TRI chemicals can also be accessed via the TOXNET system. On-line costs range from $18-$20 per hour. An NLM password is necessary to use the file. The system contains the complete national TRI data for all reporting years.

The TOXNET is also available on the Internet. The address for the file is toxnet.nlm.nih.gov. By December 1996, telecommunications access to TOXNET (except via Internet) will be limited to one toll-free telephone number (1-800-525-0216). Other value-added networks, such as Tymenet, Sprintnet, and CompuServe, will no longer provide access to TOXNET.

For more information, contact:

National Library of Medicine
Specialized Information Services
TRI Representative
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Call: (301) 496-6531
Hours: 7 days/week; 24 hours/day

Right-to-Know Computer Network (RTK NET)

The Right-to-Know Computer Network (RTK NET) offers free access to TRI data for 1987-1994, along with health facts for each TRI chemical, searchable through the World Wide Web, Telnet, and dial-up. RTK NET is an on-line telecommunications link to environmental and other databases. This service promotes pollution prevention by putting TRI data together with other related data to facilitate analyses for prevention strategies. It provides communication among individuals concerned about toxics use reduction and seeks to increase use and analysis of TRI and related data. RTK NET links TRI with other environmental data, civil cases brought by the U.S. EPA, a portion of the 1990 Census data, and a mapping program called Landview.

The TRI data can be accessed through the World Wide Web (http://www.rtk.net), telnet (rtk.net), and by modem. [To access by modem, dial 202-234-8570, set computer parameters to 8, N, 1, and type "public" (no quotes) in lower case and register for a free account.] Participants can communicate with one another through computer-generated mail, in addition to exchanging and reviewing documents electronically.

In addition to the TRI data, the following databases on RTK NET may be of interest to TRI users:

Training is available from the computer service on using telecommunications, using RTK NET, and searching the database.

For more information, contact:

RTK NET
1742 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009-1171
Call: (202) 797-7200
Fax: (202) 234-8584

EPA Internet Public Server

For TRI, like many other EPA programs, the Internet is fast becoming one of the best resources for identifying information that is available to the public. EPA manages a full-service Internet site, offering access via the World Wide Web, FTP, and Gopher (see addresses given below). The information available through each of these servers is identical; the one that you use will depend upon your preferred method of access. Consult your system administrator for specific access procedures. There is no cost for accessing the EPA public servers or using any of the information that you find there.

The Gopher server is a menu-driven, user-friendly Internet utility that allows users to download information directly to their Internet accounts. The user starts at a main menu and follows a series of sub-menus to the desired item. The address for the EPA gopher server is gopher://gopher.epa.gov. To get to the TRI files from the main menu, make the following choices from the menus displayed on your screen: EPA Offices, Regions and Laboratories; Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances; Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics; and Toxics Release Inventory. Finally, choose the name of the file that you would like to download.

The FTP file server (ftp://ftp.epa.gov) allows the user to log directly onto EPA's servers by "anonymous login" and download files directly. Operation is slightly more complex than that of the gopher because users are required to know the specific path name and the names of the files they would like to download. (For example, tables from this report in Lotus spreadsheet format can be found in the directory \pub\gopher\TRI _Chem.) Because the number of files related to TRI are expected to grow, TRI User Support has begun maintaining a list of the files that are available on the EPA Gopher. For more information or a copy of this list, contact TRI User Support (202 260-1531).

The World Wide Web server (http://www.epa. gov) offers a graphical user interface allowing access not only to text but to images as well. Using a WWW program (or "browser," such as Netscape or Mosaic), users can access both the gopher and FTP servers in a user-friendly fashion. A text-based World Wide Web program called "Lynx" is available on some systems, which allows downloading capabilities without graphics.

For more information on the EPA's Internet servers, contact the Internet support group at the e-Mail address: internet_support@unixmail. rtpnc.epa.gov.

Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) contains summaries of health risks and EPA regulatory information on over 500 specific chemicals. It is a key source for descriptive and quantitative information, such as oral reference dose and inhalation reference concentrations for chronic, noncarcinogenic health effects; oral slope factors and unit risk for chronic exposure to carcinogens; EPA drinking water health advisories; and summaries of EPA regulatory actions. The system is useful in the risk assessment process.

For on-line access, contact:

National Library of Medicine
Specialized Information Services
TRI Representative
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Call: (301) 496-6531
Hours: 7 days/week; 24 hours/day

For diskettes, contact:

National Technical Information
Service (NTIS)
U.S. Department of Commerce
5285 Port Royal Road.
Springfield, VA 22161
Call: (703) 487-4650
Fax: (703) 321-8547
Hours: 8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

Printed Media

TRI Information Kit

The TRI Information Kit is designed to acquaint a broad and disparate audience with the TRI. The information kit is appropriate for those familiar or unfamiliar with TRI. It contains a brochure, bookmark, poster, and other explanatory materials. It is designed to answer the "who, what, when, why, where, and how" questions of TRI in clear, non-jargon language. The kit provides a broad explanation of TRI, as well as examples of how various groups have used TRI, where it can be accessed or obtained, and organizations that are sources for further information about TRI and the chemicals reported. Copies are free while supplies last. Request document number EPA-749-F-93-002.

To request copies, contact:

National Center for Environmental
Publications and Information (NCEPI) 26 West Martin Luther King Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45268
Call: (513) 489-8190
Fax: (513) 489-8695

Public Data Release Reports:

EPA assembles several detailed annual reports providing summaries, analyses, and comparison of TRI data by year. The reports summarize data on total releases and transfers of TRI chemicals; geographic distribution of TRI releases and transfers; industrial patterns of releases and transfers; the interstate and intrastate transport of waste; and other kinds of analyses. Copies are free while supplies last.

To request copies, contact:

EPCRA Hotline
Call: (800) 535-0202 (outside Washington Metropolitan area)
(703) 412-9810 (in Washington Metropolitan area)
Fax: (703) 412-3333 (to request
documents only)
TDD: (800) 553-7672
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

TRI User Support Service (TRI-US)
U.S. EPA
401 M Street, SW. (MS-7407)
Washington, DC 20460
Call: (202) 260-1531
Fax: (202) 260-4659
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

Risk Screening Guide

"Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Risk Screening Guide"--Method for evaluating TRI data for environmental managers. Vols. 1 and 2, July 1989. EPA Document No.: 560/2-89-002.

To order, contact:

National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
U.S. Department of Commerce
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161
Call: (703) 487-4650
Fax: (703) 321-8547
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(Eastern Time)

Chemical Fact Sheets

In July 1994 OPPT initiated its Chemical Fact Sheets project, which provides brief (two-page) information summaries on chemicals of interest to the Office as part of its effort to provide the public with information on chemicals. The initial goal was to provide summaries that would supplement environmental release information for TRI chemicals.

During the information collection phase for the summaries, OPPT staff prepared Support Documents upon which to base the Fact Sheets. These Support Documents are more detailed reviews (10 or more pages long) of technical information from secondary sources.

While the level of detail varies, these documents provide information about the following for each chemical:

A list of EPA offices and other groups to contact for more information is also included.

Fact Sheets are now available for 25 high-production volume TRI chemicals with another 15 to be released during the summer of 1996. Another 40 are in various stages of review. Among the chemicals for which Fact Sheets are available are methylene chloride (dichloromethane), toluene, acrylonitrile, and styrene.

The Fact Sheets, their accompanying Support Documents, and a list of the chemicals can be found on the Internet at: http://www.epa.gov/chemfact.

For more information contact:

TSCA Assistance Information
Services Hotline
c/o: Garcia Consulting
401 M St., SW. (Mail Code: 7408)
Washington, DC 20460
Call: (202) 554-1404
TDD: (202) 554-0551
Fax: (202) 554-5603

Chemicals, the Press, and the Public

This guidebook describes the evolution of the "right-to-know" concept and then provides key provisions of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986. A staple of environmental journalism since it was published in 1989, this guidebook offers information on how to use the chemical and emergency planning and response data available under this law, and how to understand and interpret the information responsibly and effectively.

For more information, contact:

National Safety Council (NSC)
Environmental Health Center
1019 19th St., NW., Suite 401
Washington, DC 20036
Call: (202) 293-2270

Source: EPA 1994 Toxics Release Inventory Public Data Release (EPA 745-R-96-002, June 1996)

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