Decrease in California's Toxic Chemicals Doesn't Tell the Full Story

Dec 17, 2010

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported on EPA's announcement of a decrease in the amount of toxic chemicals released by heavy industry in the state of California. Read the article here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/16/BAKO1GROU1.DTL#ixzz18PAa87Rf.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there has been a 14% decline in the volume of toxic chemicals released by heavy industry in California between 2008 and 2009, down to 6 million pounds (largely due to a sagging economy rather than any toxics-reduction efforts). Even accounting for this decline, there is still far too much toxic pollution being released in California with impunity. Many toxic chemicals are not even tracked under the EPA's system, and the reporting thresholds are very high – so all these releases are potentially major threats for public health. There are also weaknesses in the reporting structure; for example, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which oversees industrial facility compliance with the Clean Air Act, does not have adequate training in the reporting requirements.

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