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Virginia DEQ: Chemicals released into environment on decrease

Virginia DEQHey, here’s some good news to get your day started: the latest Virginia DEQ Toxic Release Inventory report says the amount of chemicals released into Virginia’s environment is continuing to drop.

For 2019, the latest year for which data is available, DEQ reports 823.37 million pounds of chemicals – a 3.40 percent decrease from the previous year – were managed, transferred or released by industries in Virginia.

The TRI is a public database that records toxic chemical releases, transfers, waste management, and pollution-prevention activities reported by industrial facilities in the U.S. While this year’s data shows a small decrease, it represents the positive trend of fewer releases in Virginia. Between 2006 and 2019, the amount of chemicals released has decreased by approximately 58 percent.

“In the last decade, toxic chemical releases have dropped by 50 percent in Virginia,” DEQ Director David Paylor said. “The downward trend we see reflects the collective efforts of government, business and industry to manage toxic chemicals. By working together to reduce and eliminate pollution we are seeing meaningful and positive change for the greater good.”

Statistics of note in the 2019 TRI compared to 2018:

  • 1 million pounds released into the air (8.66 percent decrease)
  • 8 million pounds released into water (18.46 percent increase)
  • 48 million pounds released to land (42.80 percent decrease)
  • 250,051 pounds of persistent bio-accumulative toxins released (11.52 percent decrease)

(Percentages are approximate; exact amounts available in full report)

Releases are controlled by various air, water and waste permits issued by DEQ. The agency, through its Virginia Environmental Excellence Program, promotes environmental stewardship efforts that go beyond regulatory compliance.

The goal is to help develop more efficient technologies and business operations to reduce the amount of chemicals released into the environment and improve how chemicals are managed, conserve energy and water use.

The 2019 TRI is available on the DEQ website. Information on reporting requirements for facilities about 2020 releases will be available later this year and results will be available to the public in early 2022.

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