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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from the May 2010 Webinar "Using the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to Support Environmental Justice

Jun 21 2010 Uncategorized | Comments Off on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from the May 2010 Webinar "Using the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to Support Environmental Justice

ECOS received numerous questions from attendees during the May 25, 2010 TRI EJ Webinar. Many questions were answered by the presenters, but many were left unanswered, due to time constraints.

The unanswered questions were passed along to the presenters who have provided responses to them. These can be found below in a "Frequently Asked Questions Bank" which has been organized by presentations. Additionally, the FAQ Bank also includes responses to some questions that were answered during the Webinar.

Not all responses from presenters have been received yet, but we will post responses as we receive them.  The first installment of FAQs is below.  We will post more responses as soon as we receive them so please check back often.


Working for Environmental Justice

Responses from US EPA

ABCs of TRI

Responses from US EPA

Demonstrations of TRI.NET, TRI Explorer, and Envirofacts

Responses from US EPA

  • Are former facilities and their historical data included in TRI.NET?
    US EPA has TRI reporting data on TRI.NET back to 1988 – the first reporting year for TRI.  The TRI program was started in 1987.
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  • How does TRI.NET apportion Census data?
    TRI.NET overlays census block group data onto facility 3-mile buffers in order to provide facility level demographics.
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  • When will TRI.NET be available for MAC users?
    TRI.NET is a native Windows application, but it will run on the Mac in OSX within a virtual machine using Fusion or Parallels.
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  • Are the TRI.NET search results available in ESRI shapefile format?
    The maps are available in Kml and Html format. I know Kml can be converted to shapefiles.
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  • When will the 2010 census data will be incorporated into the TRI.NET database?
    Census 2010 data should be available by summer 2011 and is expected to be incorporated into TRI.NET within a month of it becoming available.
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  • Can I download all the records of database query to do post process data offline on my own database?
    Yes, the output of any query can be exported easily into Excel or any other spreadsheet. It can also be saved as a tab-delimited text file or import into major applications.
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  • Can weather data somehow be incorporated into TRI.NET?
    No.
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  • Additional data – criteria pollutants and some overlapping chemicals such as ammonia – are reported on the state Regional Air Web sites. Can those be incorporated into TRI’s reports?
    TRI.NET is set up to use boundary layer data so TRI data can be aggregated to that geography.
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  • Do these tools tell us when a facility has failed to submit a Form R or hasn’t fully reported all TRI releases?
    No, the TRI tools demonstrated, Envirofacts, TRI.NET, and TRI Explorer cannot tell one when a facility has failed to report.
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  • Do I have to download TRI.NET to use the quickstart option?
    Yes, you have to download the application. It’s a quick five minute download.
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  • Can you print or copy the maps created in TRI.NET for organizations to use?
    The maps are produced in Kml and Html format.  Since the map is a Web page, it can be printed from the browser. This allows maps to be shared by email or printed.
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  • Has anyone looked at all the TRI facilities on a state, regional or national basis to see what percentage of them are located near minority or low income populations? 
    The EJ data layer for TRI.NET uses demographics within 3-mile buffers around facilities which allow facilities to be screened by demographics such as minority and income. This will allow one to focus on facilities near low income and/or minority populations.
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  • The demographics information for Arcelor Mittal that Mr. Davis showed during his demonstration seem to indicate that whites are 77% of the population, and Hispanics are 90%.  How can that be?
    The answer to this question lies in the source of the data. On certain Census forms when a person is asked to describe his race he can state Caucasian. When describing his origins he can designate Hispanic. Thus he is reported as a Caucasian Hispanic.
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  • Why are there records showing up as results that have "0" under the release columns?
    The reason for the presence of "0" in the "Releases" row for facilities would be that the chemical or compound was transferred to an off-site facility for waste management or recycling after it was used and no releases occurred.
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TRI Program Update

Responses from US EPA

Correlation of TRI dioxin and furan emissions data with dioxin and furan congeners in the blood of community members

Responses from Wilma Subra

  • Is Mossville the first place where correlation between chemicals in the blood of community members and chemicals emitted from nearby industry has been studied and documented?  Can other communities now hope to access the resources to test and document such correlations?  How do we do that?
    TRI data has been used in a number of communities to correlate to blood chemical content.  The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry performs the blood testing in communities.  This usually occurs after communities identify pollution issues.
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  • Was there a control group for the Mossville study? 
    Calcasieu Parish residents not living in Mossville were the control for the 1997-98 study.  Calcasieu Parish residents not living in Mossville and Lafayette Parish made up the two control groups for the 2001 study.
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  • Isn’t diet the major source of human dioxin exposure? 
    The fish in the area water bodies are contaminated with dioxin, as well as garden produce, fruits and nuts from community members’ yards.
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  • What are the chances the dioxin "fingerprint" would remain the same after metabolism and show up the same in blood samples?
    The fingerprint has remained the same in community members exposed to sources of dioxin such as wood treating with Pentachloro Phenol.
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  • What were the release figures from Georgia Gulf in grams?
    The information on Dioxin releases by year, since 2000, is available on the EPA TRI web site.
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Use of the TRI and RSEI to address questions of inequality and cumulative impacts

Responses from James Sadd

Community Right-to-Know Access and Community Power

Responses from Julia May

  • In the facilities that you were investigating, how did you determine when chemicals were not being reported?
    This requires additional research of other databases, such as local air quality management agencies, state environmental agencies, and fire departments or emergency planning agencies. Find out if you can get electronic databases from these agencies providing an independent toxic emissions inventory. Or, you may have specific knowledge that a particular industry usually uses certain chemicals, and you can focus your research. For example, permit files, enforcement files, etc., at local and state agencies can be requested through public records requests, and are sometimes available online. You also need to establish that the company is big enough to be subject to TRI reporting which you can determine through research in business databases and publications. (For example, Dunn & Bradstreet and others, which we used to access at the local University business library).
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Using EPA’s Risk Screening Environmental Indicators to Support Environmental Justice

Responses from Michael Ash