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      The geographic distribution of potential risks posed by industrial toxic emissions in the U.S.

      Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A, Toxic/Hazardous Substances & Environmental Engineering

      United States, Risk Assessment, prevention & control, analysis, Industrial Waste, Humans, Geography, Benchmarking, Air Pollutants

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          The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), compiled annually by the EPA, has emerged as the most comprehensive database on industrial toxic emissions in the U.S. While various risk indicators and pollutant weighting methods have been developed to compare TRI emissions, these measures are rarely used to examine the geography of potential risks posed by toxic emissions at the national scale. This article provides a geographic perspective on the evaluation of industrial pollution by exploring the spatial distribution of the potential health and environmental impacts of TRI emissions across the U.S. Six indicators of potential risk based on the impact benchmarking concept are used to characterize specific human health and environmental concerns: carcinogenic toxicity, noncarcinogenic toxicity, ozone depletion, global warming, smog formation and acid rain formation. Air emission data from the 2000 TRI are used to analyze the six potential impacts at the state level. The objectives are to: (a) examine and compare spatial variations in the distribution of these adverse impacts across the U.S.: and (b) identify the states facing the highest health and environmental risk from industrial toxic releases. The effect of differences in state area and population size on the distribution of the six potential impacts and state rankings for each category are also investigated. While Ohio and Texas receive the highest ranks in all risk categories, Louisiana and West Virginia represent the most "hazardous" states when emissions are weighted by state area and population. The results demonstrate the need to examine the geographic variability of different risk indicators that are used to evaluate TRI emissions, at multiple scales.

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