Mining Industry Nation's Largest Toxic Polluter

April 13, 2001
This is the second year in a row the mining industry has earned\r\nthe title of top polluter in EPA's annual Toxics Release Inventory report.

EPA identified the mining industry as the nation''s largest toxic polluter. Hardrock mining operations accounted for 17 of the top 20 toxic releasing facilities in the United States in 1999.

This is the second year in a row the mining industry has earned the title of top polluter in EPA''s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), its annual report on the toxic chemicals released by U.S. industries.

This year the mining industry was responsible for slightly less than half (3.6 billion pounds) of all toxic releases (7.4 billion pounds) by all U.S. industries combined.

Additionally, EPA again identified the mining industry as the nation''s largest releaser of arsenic.

The mining industry reported releasing 585 million pounds of arsenic and arsenic compounds, 97 percent of all arsenic-related releases.

Electric utilities were the second largest polluting sector in 1999, with just under 1.2 billion pounds in chemical releases, up 24.9 million pounds or 2.2 percent.

A coalition of consumer groups said the data showed the need for better environmental protections, while the Bush Administration recently rolled back several regulations, including new standards reducing the amount of arsenic in drinking water.

EPA said the annual report reflects releases and other waste management activities of chemicals, not exposure of the public to those chemicals.

"The release estimates alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or to calculate potential adverse effects on human health and the environment," said the agency.

EPA''s annual TRI report can be found on the agency''s Web site at

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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