National Air Toxics Assessments and Toxics Release Inventory

The US EPA through its National Air Toxics Assessment Program conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the major 33 air toxics found in the ambient air of the United States. This study helps determine which of the air toxics creates the greatest potential cancer risk or adverse non-cancer risk to health in the United States. These chemicals are measured by the best available scientific techniques, and represent the greatest health risk to people in state/local/tribal agencies. This information helped the US EPA establish priorities for improving data in various emissions inventories and work with communities in designing studies, and helps provide the priorities for expanding and improving the monitoring of air toxics. Knowledge of the toxic chemicals, concentration, and sources helps the agencies prioritize the establishment of effective programs.

The assessments can provide information about emissions, concentrations of chemicals in the ambient air, and exposures and risks across broad geographic areas at a given moment in time, and can help identify specific air toxics and sources such as stationary sources or mobile ones. However, they cannot identify exposures and risks for a specific individual or even a small geographic area such as a census block or hotspot. The most recent assessment of 2005 was made available to the public in early 2011.

The Toxics Release Inventory is a database of releases of toxic chemicals from manufacturing facilities which may pollute the air, water, and land. The individual can determine potential hazards by typing his/her ZIP code into the database information form. See endnote 33 for information on the most recent National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

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