Phosphate fertilizer facilities that release phosphoric acid no longer are required to report phosphoric acid releases on EPA's annual toxic release inventory (TRI), according to a decision by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In its ruling, the court said that phosphoric acid is not toxic and therefore is not required to be reported. The case began in November of 1990 when the The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) filed a petition with EPA to remove phosphoric acid from the Toxic Release Inventory list. EPA denied this petition in January of 1998 because phosphoric acid releases can stimulate algae growth in a water body, which in turn can deplete oxygen levels and injure fish.
TFI filed suit against EPA in June of 1998, claiming EPA incorrectly denied the petition based on an overly-broad definition of toxicity.
Phosphoric acid is the result of combining mined phosphate rock with acid. It occurs naturally in the environment and is a major component in plant fertilizer. Phosphoric acid is also used as a food and beverage additive and is present in safe concentrations in a variety of household, medical and personal hygiene products.