TRI National Analysis

Air Releases in the 2015 TRI National Analysis

See Other Graphics in this Section

Trends in Air Releases

Air emissions continue to decline, serving as a primary driver of decreased total releases. Air releases include both fugitive air emissionsHelpfugitive or non-point air emissionsAll releases of the EPCRA Section 313 chemical to the air that are not released through stacks, vents, ducts, pipes, or any other confined air stream. and point source air emssionsHelpstack or point air emissionsAll releases of the EPCRA Section 313 chemical to the air that occur through stacks, confined vents, ducts, pipes, or other confined air stream.. This graph shows the trend in the pounds of toxic chemicals released to air as reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program.


From 2005 to 2015:

  • Air releases declined significantly, serving as a primary driver of decreases in total releases.
  • Air releases decreased by 56% (851 million pounds).
    • Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrogen fluoride, methanol and toluene were the chemicals with the greatest reductions in air releases since 2005.
    • The decrease is driven by electric utilities due to a shift from coal to other fuel sources, the installation of control technologies at coal-fired power plants, and the implementation of environmental regulations.
    • Coal- and oil-fired electric utilities accounted for more than 90% of nationwide reductions in air releases of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and mercury from 2005 to 2015.
  • Air releases of OSHA carcinogens also decreased; see the Air Releases of OSHA Carcinogens figure.
  • Air releases of other chemicals of special concern, including lead compounds and mercury, also decreased; see the Chemicals of Special Concern section.
  • Air releases are often regulated by other programs as well, such as under Title V of the Clean Air Act, which requires major sources of air pollutants to obtain and comply with an operating permit.

In 2015:

  • Ammonia, followed by methanol, accounted for the greatest air releases of TRI chemicals.
  • Since 2014, air releases decreased by 8%.

This page was published in January 2017 and uses the 2015 TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in October 2016.

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