|More than a dozen years after the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) became law, Massachusetts is still on the cutting edge of reducing toxic chemical use and waste. In its most recent annual report, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) documents that, under TURA, major chemical-using facilities in the state have continued to reduce their reliance on toxic chemicals.
TURA progress has historically been measured by using data (excluding trade secret data) normalized for changes in production that is reported by a core group of TURA facilities that were subject to reporting in 1990 and continue to report today. Originally, the 1990 Core Group represented nearly 100 percent of TURA chemical use in Massachusetts. However, because certain chemicals and industry groups were added to the TURA program after 1990, the 1990 core group now represents only about half of all current reported toxics use. Therefore, a new core group has been created to more accurately represent progress within the TURA reporting universe from a 2000 baseline year.
In 2002, the new core group used 989 million pounds, or 99 percent of the total toxic chemicals reported. Adjusting the data to account for a 10 percent decrease in production from 2000 to 2002, the new Core Group facilities reduced:
-toxic chemical use by 6 percent,
-toxic byproducts by 9 percent,
-quantities of toxics shipped in product by 14 percent, -on-site releases of toxics to the environment by 21 percent, and -transfers of toxics off-site for further waste-management by 17 percent.
By comparison, the 1990 core group used 532 million pounds in 2002, or 53 percent of the total toxic chemicals reported. Adjusting the data to account for a 22 percent increase in production from 1990 to 2002, the 1990 Core Group facilities reduced:
-toxic chemical use by 42 percent,
-toxic byproducts by 67 percent,
-quantities of toxics shipped in product by 58 percent,
-on-site releases of toxics to the environment by 92 percent, and
-transfers of toxics off-site for further waste management by 54 percent.
2002 was the third year that TURA facilities reported on chemicals now classified as persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic (PBT) chemicals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program. The most widely reported PBTs are polycyclic aromatic compounds, benzo(g,h,i)perylene, lead, and lead compounds.