Toxic Pollutants in U.S. Atmosphere Up by Five Percent (or More)

The U.S. EPA reports that the volume of toxic pollutants released into the atmosphere increased by 5 percent in 2002 — only the second increase since 1988, when the EPA started keeping track, and the largest — but according to enviro groups, even that grim figure is a gross underestimation. Immediately preceding the release of the EPA’s annual Toxic Release Inventory, two groups, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention, released a report alleging that last year’s TRI (covering 2001) underestimated the amount of 10 toxic pollutants by some 330 million pounds. The groups criticized the EPA for allowing industrial plants to estimate emissions, using what the report calls outmoded formulas, rather than actually measuring them. “The bottom line here,” said Kelly Haragan of the EIP, “is that the public is being exposed to far more toxic air pollution than the EPA acknowledges.”