The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory, just out for 2019, offers citizens a way to track the types, amounts, and sources of pollution released in their communities.
For North Carolina that year, the good news was that air pollution continued its slow decline. However, water pollution went back up to its highest level since 2015. In all, 762 facilities reported releasing 39 million pounds of pollutants into North Carolina’s air, water, and land. Our state ranked 17th overall among 56 states and territories in the amount of pollution released into the environment.
The EPA compiles the data from facilities like factories and municipal waste treatment plants, which are required to file the reports, and makes the data available to the public through an interactive website. 2019 was the first year which included data specifically on PFAS, toxic “forever chemicals” like GenX which are persistent in the environment and don’t break down readily when absorbed.
The EPA site offers a video instructing users on how to access information on specific communities or facilities. In addition, NC Policy Watch environmental reporter Lisa Sorg prepared a beginner’s tutorial on the process.