Who are the top toxic water polluters in your state?
A half-century after the passage of the Clean Water Act, industrial facilities continue to release large volumes of toxic substances into our waterways, threatening the health of people and ecosystems.
The map below allows you to see how much toxic water pollution was emitted by industrial facilities in your state in 2020, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). You can also view the top 10 polluters in your state by selecting it from the drop-down menu above the map. More information about each facility and its pollution is available by clicking on or hovering over the numbered dots on the map.
Industrial facilities pollute waterways across the country, in every state and territory. In 2020, these facilities released nearly 193.7 million pounds of toxic substances into our lakes, rivers and oceans. Many of those toxins, in addition to harming ecosystems, can cause serious health effects in humans, including cancer, reproductive problems and developmental damage.
Pollution is carried by water as it flows, so the toxic chemicals dumped in one state or river can threaten ecosystems and communities far away. Also, some toxic substances pose much greater risks than others. The map above shows the facilities in each state that released the most toxic water pollution by weight. An analysis of releases by toxicity (the potential harm to humans and ecosystems) is available in the full Wasting Our Waterways report.
Wasting Our Waterways
To end this toxic threat to America’s waterways, our nation should:
- reduce the use of toxic chemicals;
- dramatically cut toxic releases to waterways by updating pollution control standards, as required by the Clean Water Act; and
- vigorously enforce clean water laws, including federal protection for all waterways.
Data source: Total releases of chemicals as reported to the federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2020. TRI data is self-reported by industry and does not include all facilities in a state or all toxic releases by those facilities. Reported releases as of 9 March 2023 were used, and were downloaded from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s EZ Search tool. Releases of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds were converted from grams to pounds. State rankings include the top 10 facilities by state for total releases of toxics to water by industrial facilities required to report to TRI. For the purposes of this map, release values were rounded to the nearest pound, and facilities for which total releases rounded to zero are not displayed.
Former Director, Environment Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Associate Director and Senior Policy Analyst, Frontier Group
Tony Dutzik is associate director and senior policy analyst with Frontier Group. His research and ideas on climate, energy and transportation policy have helped shape public policy debates across the U.S., and have earned coverage in media outlets from the New York Times to National Public Radio. A former journalist, Tony lives and works in Boston.
Policy Analyst, Frontier Group
Bryn Huxley-Reicher is a policy analyst at Frontier Group focusing on issues related to clean energy and the new economy. He has a BA in applied mathematics focused in earth and planetary sciences from Harvard University.