Ranking of Top Corporate Air Polluters Now Called Toxic 100Published by MAC on 2005-08-09
The US EPA's Toxic Release Inventory has long indicted metal smelters as the worst single group of industrial polluters in the country. Now, the Toxic 100 list - by ranking emissions according to their impacts, rather than output - lets the minerals industry slightly off the hook. But only just - US Steel still ranks among the top five culprit companies
Ranking of Top Corporate Air Polluters Now Called Toxic 100
August 9, 2005
Environmental News Service (ENS)
AMHERST, Massachusetts - Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts (PERI) announced today that their ranking of the worst corporate air polluters will now be called the Toxic 100.
PERI has changed the index's name from the Misfortune 100 to the Toxic 100 under threat of legal action from Fortune Magazine/Time Inc.
The Toxic 100's top five are General Electric, or GE, Georgia-Pacific, Eastman Kodak, Boeing, and US Steel, said James Boyce, director of PERI's environment program.
The Toxic 100 index identifies the top air polluters among all corporations that appear in the Fortune 500, Forbes 500, and Standard & Poor's 500 lists of the country's largest firms.
The Toxic 100 informs consumers and shareholders which U.S. corporations release the most toxic pollutants into our air, said Boyce. We measure not just how many pounds of pollutants are released, but which are the most toxic and how many people are at risk. People have a right to know about toxic hazards to which they are exposed," Boyce said. "Legislators need to understand the effects of pollution on their constituents.
The Toxic 100 index is based on air releases of hundreds of toxic chemicals from industrial facilities across the country.
The rankings take into account not only the quantity of releases, but also the relative toxicity of different chemicals, nearby population, and other factors such as prevailing winds and height of smokestacks.
The data on chemical releases come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for the year 2000. The TRI data have been widely cited in press accounts that identify the top polluters in various states and localities. But prior reports were subject to three key limitations:
- Raw TRI data are reported simply in total pounds of chemicals, without taking into account differences in toxicity. Yet pound-for-pound, some chemicals are up to ten million times more hazardous than others.
- TRI data do not take account of the numbers of people affected by toxic releases for example, the difference between facilities that are upwind from densely populated urban areas as opposed to those located far from population centers.
- TRI data are reported on a facility-by-facility basis, without combining the different plants owned by the same corporation to get a picture of overall corporate performance.
The Toxic 100 index tackles all three problems. It includes toxicity weights and the number of people at risk taking into account smokestack heights, prevailing wind patterns, local topography, and population density using data from the EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators project. PERI researchers added up facility-by-facility data from the EPA to get corporate rankings.
The Political Economy Research Institute addresses basic issues of human and ecological well-being through research written for the general public, policy makers, and academic audiences.
For more information, visit: http://www.umass.edu/peri.