Living near toxic air emissions can threaten health. Though toxic releases have been tracked before, an updated list of the United States’ top corporate air polluters was recently released. The new list shows more about who is at risk. Researchers from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented its annual and comprehensive report on the nation’s “Toxic 100 Air Polluters” late last month.
Measuring air releases of hundreds of chemicals from industrial facilities across the country, these rankings reflect the quantity, as well as the relative toxicity, of the chemicals emitted. Other factors such as prevailing winds, smokestack height and the number of people exposed to pollutants were incorporated into the ranking system.
UMass Amherst economics professor James Boyce, co-director of PERI’s Corporate Toxics Information Project (CTIP) explained that this list helps consumers and shareholders identify which large corporations release the most toxic pollutants into our air.
“People have a right to know about toxic hazards to which they are exposed. Legislators need to understand the effects of pollution on their constituents,” Boyce said in a press release.
In fact, many neighborhoods living near these polluting facilities find growing incidents of asthma and cancer that have been linked to the exposure of industrial pollutants.
While PERI has released a similar list in previous years, the latest Toxic 100 Air Polluters includes information on the disproportionate risk burden from industrial pollutants for minorities and low-income communities.
Using the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory and Risk Screening Environmental Indicators to explore the demographics of those who are most affected by toxic pollution, PERI showed which corporations are directly responsible for contributing to the poor air quality found in these communities.
With the Web-based Toxic 100 Air Polluters list users can view the details behind each company’s Toxic Score. This includes information on the names and locations of individual facilities owned by the corporation, identification of the specific chemicals these facilities emit, and the share of this toxicity borne by minorities and people living below the poverty line.
PERI’s latest report also provides access to this information on all firms operating in the country, regardless of size.
“In making this information available, we are building on the achievements of the right-to-know movement,” explains UMass Amherst economics professor Michael Ash, co-director of the CTIP in a statement. “Our goal is to engender public participation in environmental decision making, and to help residents translate the right to know into the right to clean air.”
The top five air polluters among large corporations are the Bayer Group, ExxonMobil, Sunoco, DuPont, and ArcelorMittal, according to the latest PERI list.
See the entire list at: http://www.peri.umass.edu/toxic_index/