US EPA’s List of Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic Chemicals and Pollution Prevention
Can It Help State And Local P2 Programs Identify Priorities?
Santa Clara County
Pollution Prevention Program
1735 North First Street, Suite 275
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408 441-1195
Fax: 408 441-0365
Table of Contents
- What are PBTs?
- What sources of data on PBTs are available for a community?
- What industries use, store, manufacture and/or discharge PBTs?
- Determining PBT Priorities at the Local Community Level
- Conclusion and Summary Page
List of Tables
- Table 1 PBT Chemicals – Regulatory Program Comparison
- Table 2 91 & 97 TRI Air Releases of PBTs for Santa Clara County
- Table 3 91 & 97 TRI Sewer Releases of PBTs for Santa Clara County
- Table 4 91 & 97 TRI Disposal Transfers of PBTs for Santa Clara County
- Table 5 91 & 97 TRI Recycle Transfers of PBTs for Santa Clara County
- Table 6 Industry Source Types of PBTs for Santa Clara County by SIC Codes
- Table 7 94 & 97 BAAQMD Toxic Air Contaminant Data for PBTs
- Table 8 98 Discharges of PBTs from San Jose POTW into San Francisco Bay
- Table 9 Combined PBT List from TRI, TAC, & POTW Databases
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently developed a draft list of 53 persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals and chemical categories that may be present in industrial hazardous chemicals regulated under the various EPA media programs as well as contained in consumer products. The PBT list will be the focus of EPA efforts to promote voluntary source reduction and recycling activities which reduce the generation and discharge of PBT chemicals by at least 50% by the year 2005 using a base year of 1991. EPA’s PBT reduction program is intended as a core element of the proposed Waste Minimization National Plan.
The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database will be used by EPA to measure national progress towards achieving the 50% reduction goal. EPA is in the process of adding to the TRI list of chemicals those PBT chemicals which are not currently on the list of TRI regulated chemicals. In addition EPA is proposing to lower the TRI reporting thresholds for PBT chemicals so more accurate data will be available in the future to measure national progress towards accomplishing the 50% reduction goal.
EPA’s purpose for adoption of the PBT list is to establish national level waste minimization priorities. At the local community level the PBT list can potentially be useful as a tool to identify industrial sectors and/or specific chemicals for focusing P2 technical assistance resources.
The list of 53 PBT chemicals lays the ground work for local communities to develop and implement plans to do their part towards achieving the 50% reduction goal stated in EPA’s Waste Minimization National Plan. Since each local community has a unique economic and environmental makeup it is important that each community focus their efforts on a specific locally determined subset of the list of 53 PBTs. Since industry types vary from one location to another the challenge for local communities is to determine which of the 53 PBTs are most commonly used, stored, and/or generated in their area. In addition it is necessary to identify which industrial, commercial, and/or residential sectors contribute to the local environmental PBT loading.
In order to determine the applicability of EPA’s list of PBT chemicals at the local community level the Santa Clara County Pollution Prevention Program undertook an analysis of various hazardous materials databases including TRI. This analysis discusses various data sources and analytic methodologies which local communities can use to help determine PBT activity levels in their communities. The results our analysis provided a basis on which to determine specific PBT issues for Santa Clara County and to guide the development appropriate programs to address these issues. Absent this type of community based PBT analysis and action it is unclear and uncertain what progress can be accomplished toward EPA’s 50% PBT reduction goal.
PBT chemicals exhibit varying degrees of three properties: Persistent (P) chemicals do not readily break down in the environment; bioaccumulative (B) chemicals are not easily metabolized and can accumulate in human or ecological food chains through consumption or uptake; toxic (T) chemicals may be hazardous to human health or the environment in a variety of ways. Examples of toxic effects include cancer and birth defects in humans and reduced populations and altered community structures within ecosystems. Chemicals which exhibit characteristics, once released to the environment, may present increasing long-term toxic effects to human health and the environment, even when these chemicals are released in small quantities.
PBT chemicals do not readily break down or decrease in potency after they are released to the environment. Over time, these chemicals are likely to accumulate in soils or other environmental media, be absorbed or ingested by plants and animals, accumulate in animal and plant tissue, pass through the food chain, and potentially cause long-term human health or ecological problems (such as cancer and birth defects in humans or reduced ecological populations). For this reason, PBT chemicals are a local, national, and international environmental concern long after they are used, generated, or released to the environment.
Table 1 lists each of the 53 PBT chemicals by name and Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number. In addition this table identifies for each chemical other EPA and California environmental regulatory programs which regulate these chemicals. This table provides an indication of potential sources of data for communities regarding local PBT use, storage, and/or generation levels. These data sources and others are discussed below.
As discussed above, EPA intends to use the TRI data base to measure national progress towards achieving the 50% reduction goal. The TRI data base can also be very useful to a local community as a source of information about local PBT activity. In addition to the TRI database local communities may have access to more detailed information about PBT activity in their area. As demonstrated by Table 1 many of the 53 PBTs are also regulated by other EPA, state and local regulatory programs. Certain of these programs require that agencies obtain data regarding the storage, use and/or generation of hazardous chemicals including most of the PBTs. Following is a summary of some of these regulatory programs and the types of state or local agencies where these data bases can be found.
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) required by Sec 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act. This annual report of environmental discharges and controlled disposal must be completed by large scale manufacturers and users of TRI listed chemicals. As indicated on Table 1 most PBT chemicals are already listed as TRI chemicals, and EPA has proposed to add those PBTs not currently listed under TRI. Annual TRI data for a community can be obtained from state environmental agencies as well as US EPA and privately maintained Internet Web sites. The most recent TRI data available is typically two years old. TRI data for states, counties, cities or specific industries can be obtained from the following
The TRI data base is an excellent resource for a local community to use to begin an analysis to determine local PBT priorities and develop action plans. However, the TRI data base is some what limited in what it can reveal to a local community regarding PBT activity levels. Because of diminimus provisions the TRI reporting requirements typically only captures data from large volume users or generators of TRI chemicals. Companies using and/or generating TRI chemicals below the specified levels are not required to report their TRI chemical activity. Thus the TRI data base will likely understate the actual amount of PBT activity for any given community.
Hazardous Materials Storage Inventories – this information is required under EPA’s Community Right-to-Know regulations as well as many state and local laws and regulations. Under these requirements facilities which store and/or use hazardous materials must submit an annual inventory of all the hazardous chemicals and waste which they use, store, or manufacture. The storage inventories are typically filed with a local fire department or a local emergency planning or response agency.
These laws vary from community to community and most include diminimus levels which are exempted from the inventory reporting requirements. Thus the full extent of PBT use and/or storage will likely be under stated on the available inventory records. Most communities maintain these inventory records only in hard copy formats. This will likely limit the practical feasibility of using this data to conduct a local PBT activity analysis. However, the storage inventory can provide very detailed data for specific facilities which may present a particular local concern.
Hazardous waste generation data – this information is required by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and state hazardous waste laws and regulations. RCRA requires all shipments of hazardous waste to be accompanied by a manifest which is a shipping document containing information about the waste generator, identification of the waste, and the disposal facility to which the hazardous waste is being sent. Copies of each hazardous waste manifest must be submitted to the state environmental agency in which the generator is located. Manifest records for all hazardous waste generators in a community should be available from the responsible state agency.
As with the hazardous materials inventory data hazardous waste manifest data is unlikely to be available in an electronically sortable data base. Additionally, it may be very difficult to extract specific information about PBT chemicals from hazardous waste manifest records. This is a result of the fact that wastes are identified on the manifests by the RCRA hazardous waste code numbers not chemical name or CAS number. Thus obtaining PBT specific data from hazardous waste manifest records could prove to be very costly and inefficient. However, the manifest data could provide very detailed data for specific facilities identified from other data bases.
Hazardous Air Pollutant or Toxic Air Contaminant Inventories – this information is required by the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) as well as state and local air quality laws and regulations. Under CAA requirements dischargers of air pollutants are required to report their emissions of criteria (i.e. NOX, SOX, VOCs) pollutants as well as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). HAPS are also commonly referred to as Toxic Air Contaminants (TACs). As indicted on Table 1 many of the chemicals on the PBT list are also identified as HAPs or TACs under federal and/or state clean air programs. Annual reports or estimates of emissions of HAPs and TACs should be available from state or local air quality management agencies. Some state and local air quality regulatory agencies maintain electronically searchable and sortable data bases of TAC emission inventories.
While the TAC data is potentially readily available it is important to remember that this data does not provide a multimedia perspective of PBT activity in a community. While the specific results of an analysis of the available TAC emissions inventory is only relevant for air quality issues the subset of PBT that show up in such an analysis provides strong clues of which PBTs to look for when analyzing other media specific chemical inventories.
EPA Priority Pollutants Discharges – this information is required under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and/or state and local waste water management programs. As shown on Table 1 most of the PBTs are also listed as priority pollutants. Under the federal law local sewage treatment plants must implement an industrial pretreatment program for firms which discharge listed priority pollutants to the treatment plant. If a firms waste water contains concentrations of priority pollutants above a locally defined maximum level the firm must first treat its waste water prior to discharge to the sewer. In addition the firms subject to the pretreatment requirement must submit periodic reports documenting the concentration and total volume of discharge to the sewer after treatment. This data should be available from your local sewage treatment plant, commonly referred to as Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). In addition the POTWs themselves are subject to CWA permit requirements and discharge limitations. Data regarding the discharges from the POTWs to receiving waters should also be available from the state permitting authority and/or the POTW itself.
Similar to air quality data the data potentially available from the POTWs is only related to the waste water media. However, any PBTs found as a result of an analysis of the POTW records indicates that other more detailed records may be available from some of the other sources discussed above.
Industries which are potential sources of PBTs are those that manufacture, process, or otherwise use any of the chemicals listed on Table 1. Consumer products manufactured by these industries may also contain PBT chemicals. Industrial facilities where the 53 PBT chemicals are used include, but are not limited to:
- Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF) that incinerate or otherwise treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste or sewage sludge.
- Industrial Facilities that:
- operate chlor-alkali processes;
- chlorinated organic compounds,
- organic or inorganic chemicals,
- tires and/or inner tubes,
- other rubber products,
- plastics and material resins,
- Portland cement,
- pulp and paper,
- asphalt coatings, or
- electrical components;
- operate cement kilns;
- operate metallurgical processes such:
- metal recovery furnaces,
- blast furnaces,
- coke ovens,
- metal casting and stamping;
- operate petroleum bulk terminals;
- operate petroleum refineries;
- operate industrial boilers that burn coal, wood, or petroleum products.
- electric utilities that burn coal and/or petroleum products.
This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a general guide regarding the types of facilities most likely to use, store and/or discharge one or more of the 53 PBT chemicals. Other types of industrial and commercial facilities not listed in the table could also use some of the PBT chemicals.
Accomplishing US EPA’s goal to reduce the generation and discharge of PBTs by 50% by 2005 will require focused and dedicated efforts by local communities. The issue for the local communities is determining where to start their efforts. Each local community is unique in its economic makeup and environmental setting. Thus the PBTs of greatest significance will be different for each community. The greatest challenge for each community is to identify which subset of the list of PBTs is most relevant to that community.
As indicted above EPA intends to use the TRI data base to measure progress towards achieving the 50% PBT reduction goal of the Waste Minimization National Plan.
While the TRI data base is appropriate for tracking nation-wide progress in addressing PBT issues it may not provide an adequate level of detail for determining local priorities. For this reason communities will need to access other data bases, such as those described above, which provide greater detail regarding PBT usage in the local area. Following is an example a PBT analysis prepared for the County of Santa Clara, which is located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.
As a first step in conducting a community level assessment of PBTs it is important to first determine the most readily available sources of data for the community in question. For the County of Santa Clara the following databases were determined to be the most readily available and easily accessible:
- TRI database found at the Right-to-Know internet site (http://www.rtk.net)
- Bay Area Air Quality Management District -Toxic Air Contaminant Annual Report
- San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant – Pollutant Performance Data
Other data sources, such as the hazardous materials storage inventory or hazardous waste manifest data, were not available electronically. Only hard copy records for each individual regulated facility are available for this data. To use these data sources would have been extremely time consuming and not very productive.
TRI Data Base Analyses
The Right-to-Know internet site TRI Database proved to be very valuable as a starting point for this community level PBT analysis. The site provides TRI data for calendar years 1987 – 1997. For this analysis the 1991 (US EPA PBT base year) and 1997 datasets were analyzed. This site allows the user to tailor a query for specific geographic areas. Geographic queries of this TRI Database can be conducted at the state, county, or city level. For this example Santa Clara County, California was selected. In addition, the query form allows the user to select a specific TRI chemical by CAS number or name or chemical family for analysis. The user can also select the level of detail (summary, low, medium or high) which will to be returned to the user as a result of the query. For this analysis the “low” level of detail was selected. This level of detail provides information for each facility reporting a particular chemical and a summary of the total releases broken down by environmental media and the total off-site transfers broken down by recycle or disposal transfers for the community selected.
To perform this analysis it was necessary to query the database individually for each of the 53 PBT chemicals or chemical families for both the 1991 and 1997 datasets. The results of these queries found data for eight of the 53 PBT chemicals reported by firms operating in Santa Clara County. The results of queries for the other forty-five PBTs showed no TRI reports were submitted for these PBTs for Santa Clara County.
One of the most valuable features of the TRI data base is the multi-media information it will provide. Analyzing the individual media data for each chemical will help to refine local PBT priority determinations. The media by media results this PBT analysis of the TRI data base are shown on Tables 2 – 5 and discussed below.
Table 2 summarizes the air releases of the eight PBTs for both 1991 and 1997. The change in air releases between 1991 and 1997 for these eight chemicals vary from a 100% decrease for trichloroethane to a 219% increase for copper. This strongly suggests that local reduction efforts should focus on copper releases to the air. For the other six PBTs Table 2 reveals significant reductions in air discharges between 91 and 97. In fact the reductions for chromium, nickel, and trichloroethane already exceed US EPA’s 50% reduction goal for 2005.
Table 3 summarizes the releases of these same eight PBTs to waste water treatment plants. The changes in waste water releases for these PBT between 1991 and 1997 range from no change for zinc to 100% decrease for trichloroethane. Data for the other six PBTs reveal significant reductions between 91 and 97. The reductions for chromium, copper, and lead already exceed EPA’s 50% reduction goal. The reductions demonstrated by Table 3 would suggest that waste water is not a significant media on which to focus local PBT reduction efforts. However, it is important to keep in mind the limitations that the TRI database presents. More detailed local data from a POTW may reveal a vary different result.
Table 4 summarizes the amount of the eight PBTs transferred off-site for disposal. Figures for the two years vary from 100% reductions for lead and trichloroethane to a 215% increase for copper. Once again the results indicate that copper should be the focus of local disposal reduction efforts.
Table 5 summarizes the amount of the eight PBTs transferred off-site for recycling. Since recycling is defined as environmentally beneficial the desired results of Table 5 are for increasing recycling rates. Four of the eight PBT chemicals show significant increases in recycling activity. Three of the remaining four have no data for either year and the last PBT, trichloroethane, shows a 100% decrease in recycling. The 100% decrease for trichloroethane is a result of this chemical no longer being used by local industry, which is an environmentally desirable outcome. Table 5 over all tells a very positive story for the recycling efforts of Santa Clara County industry and does not indicate a need for additional PBT recycling promotion efforts.
Taken all together the analysis of the TRI data sets for 1991 and 1997 for Santa Clara County reveal that significant progress has been made toward meeting its fair share of US EPAís 50% PBT reduction goal by 2005. For some of these eight chemicals the reductions have far exceeded EPAís reduction goal. Analysis of the TRI data base indicates that the environmental media of greatest local concern for these PBTs is releases to the air. Two chemicals, copper and lead, show increases in air releases from 1991 to 1997; and another two chemicals, phenol and trichlorobenzene, show less than 50% reductions. It can thus be concluded from the TRI data base analyses that air releases of copper, lead, phenol and trichlorobenzene should be the focus of local pollution prevention efforts in order to meet the local fair share of the national 50% reduction goal.
Another method of using the TRI data base at the local community level is to identify the industry types or sectors which have reported TRI data. By reviewing the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes the TRI data base can also be useful to identify the industry sectors that are the significant sources of PBT releases in a community. Comparing the media by media analyses discussed above to an SIC code analysis will yield information about which industry sectors contribute to the local environmental loading of PBTs. This type of analysis will help to overcome the limitation of the TRI data base which typically reflects the activity of only large scale users of PBTs. Table 6 lists each of the industry sectors contributing a portion of the releases reported Santa Clara County. This listing is useful in identifying the industry sectors, beyond just the large scale users of PBTs, for focused pollution prevention outreach efforts.
Toxic Air Contaminant Annual Report
A second source of data regarding PBT activity in an area is data regarding air emissions of hazardous air pollutants which should be available from state or local air quality management agencies. In California hazardous air pollutants are commonly referred to as toxic air contaminants (TAC). As indicated on Table 1 most of EPA’s PBT chemicals are also identified as TACs under California air quality laws. Both the state Air Resources Board and local air quality management districts maintain annual data bases of TAC sources and emissions. For Santa Clara County the agency responsible for regulating TAC emissions and maintaining the TAC emissions inventory is the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).
For this analysis the annual BAAQMD Toxic Air Contaminant Reports were obtained for 1994 and 1997. Information for EPA’s proposed 1991 based year was unavailable for this analysis. The BAAQMD TAC Reports allow for two levels of geographic analysis, 1) regional data for the entire nine county jurisdiction of the BAAQMD and, 2) more localized data for each county and city within the District.
Analysis of the BAAQMD TAC data reveals that there were eighteen PBTs released to the air on a region-wide basis, and nine of the eighteen were released in Santa Clara County. See Table 7 for details. For most of these PBTs the BAAQMD data show reductions in discharges between 1994 and 1997. Of greater significance however is a comparison of the PBTs found from the TRI data base analysis and the BAAQMD TAC analysis. Only three PBTs, chromium, lead, and nickel, are common between the TRI air emissions data and the BAAQMD TAC data for Santa Clara County. The TRI air emissions data base shows air emissions activity for four PBTs not reported as BAAQMD TACs and the BAAQMD TAC data base shows air emissions for six PBTs not reported as TRI air releases. These differences are primarily a result of the different emissions reporting thresholds of the TRI and BAAQMD TAC regulatory programs.
One PBT of notable significance that shows up on the BAAQMD TAC data base but not the TRI data base is chloroform. The TAC data base reveals that the primary source of air emissions of chloroform is from sewage treatment plants. Chloroform does not show up on the TRI data base because sewage treatment plants are not required to report under the TRI program.
Another example of a significant difference between the TRI air emissions data and the BAAQMD data is for copper. As discussed above the TRI data strongly suggests that copper should be a focus for local efforts to reduce PBT emissions to the air. In contrast, copper is not even reported under the BAAQMD TAC data for Santa Clara County.
The differences in the PBT chemicals identified from the TRI data base and the BAAQMD TAC data base demonstrates the importance for a local community to analyze locally available hazardous material databases for PBT information in addition to the TRI data base. Because of the differences in the underlying regulatory programs different PBTs are likely to show up for each data base analyzed. Conducting these additional analyses will provide a more complete basis for local communities to determine the appropriate PBT priorities for their area.
San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant – Pollutant Performance Data
A third data base for this study was obtained from the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP). Table 8 lists twelve PBTs and total pounds of each discharged from the WPCP to the San Francisco Bay for calendar year 1998. The table also includes the amount the WPCP was permitted to discharge during this time frame. Data for 1991 base year for US EPA’s PBT program was not available at the time of this study so a comparison of base year to more current data could not be accomplished. The twelve PBTs listed on Table 8 are particularly significant as US EPA has identified San Francisco Bay as an impaired water body for these pollutants under the Clean Water Act.
A comparison of Table 8 to the TRI Sewer Releases shown on Table 3 again demonstrates the importance of analyzing local environmental data bases to identify PBT priorities. Only six of the twelve PBTs shown on Table 8 also appear as TRI Sewer Releases shown on Table 3. The differences between the local sewer release data and the TRI Sewer Release data are primarily a result of the reporting limitations of the TRI regulations discussed above. Thus, reliance solely on the TRI database could result in a local community not accurately identifying the most significant PBT priorities for their area.
US EPA has recently published a draft list of 53 persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals and chemical categories that may be present in industrial hazardous chemicals regulated under the various EPA media programs as well as contained in consumer products. The PBT list will be the focus of EPA efforts to promote voluntary source reduction and recycling activities which reduce the generation and discharge of PBT chemicals by at least 50% by the year 2005 using a base year of 1991. EPA’s PBT reduction program is intended as a core element of the proposed Waste Minimization National Plan.
Accomplishing US EPA’s 50% reduction goal will require focused and dedicated efforts by local communities. The challenge for the local communities is determining where to start their efforts. Each local community is unique in its economic makeup and environmental setting. Thus the PBTs of greatest significance will be different for each community. Each local community will need to identify which subset of the list of PBTs is most relevant to that community.
EPA intends to use the TRI data base to measure progress towards achieving the 50% PBT reduction goal. While the TRI database is appropriate for tracking nation-wide progress in reducing PBT discharges it does not provide an adequate level of detail for determining local PBT priorities. Because of the reporting limits of the TRI regulations, details about local PBT usage and/or discharge may not be contained in the TRI database. Communities will need to access other locally available chemical use and discharge databases, which provide greater detail regarding PBT usage in the local area. Obtaining access to these other databases will require working closely with the responsible local agencies. Analyzing these local databases for PBT use and/or discharge data will overcome the inherent limitations of the TRI database which typically captures data only from large industrial facilities.
The PBT analyses prepared for Santa Clara County clearly demonstrates the importance and value of conducting PBT analyses of local chemical use/discharge databases in addition to the TRI database. Table 9 combines the lists of PBTs found from analysis of the TRI, TAC and POTW databases for a total of seventeen PBTs being discharged in Santa Clara County, more than twice the number of PBTs identified from the TRI database alone. Only three of these seventeen PBTs are common to all three databases, while eight appear on only one of the databases and six are common to two of the databases. Clearly, using only the TRI database to identify PBTs of concern for Santa Clara County would not have provided as complete a picture of the PBT concerns present in our community. The results of the analyses of the TAC and POTW databases is more reflective of the industrial makeup of Santa Clara County and are thus more relevant for follow-up action than the PBTs identified from the TRI database.