Toxins down—to 44 million pounds

Lead, ammonia and asbestos are among most common

The total amount of toxins released into the environment by major facilities operating in California was down by 21 percent in 2008 from 2007, according to a report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month. The data comes from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, a publicly available database that communities can use to monitor the amount of toxins local industries are releasing. Altogether, 1,336 facilities released 44 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2008. The top five released chemicals are lead, ammonia, asbestos, zinc compounds and nitrate compounds. Hazardous-waste, petroleum refineries and gold-ore mining account for 68 percent of total releases. Here’s a look at toxic releases in California from 2006-2008, reported in pounds:

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Type of release 2006 2007 2008 Air 16,899,520 15,253,412 12,471,128 Land (On-site) 14,259,549 27,503,142 23,719,878 Underground injection 50,938 69,922 104,807 Water 5,018,431 4,058,695 2,227,272 8,981,037 9,059,482 5,420,739 Totals 45,209,475 55,944,653 43,943,824

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency