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TRI to Communicate: Public Knowledge of the Federal Toxics Release Inventory*

Mark Atlas ()

Social Science Quarterly, 2007, vol. 88, issue 2, 555-572

Abstract: Objective. Investigate public knowledge and use of information from the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the most internationally prominent and well‐regarded environmental information program, providing industrial facility chemical release and transfer data since 1989. Method. Three‐phase survey panel of 1,292 people in two counties. Results. Only very small percentages recalled, without prompting, TRI or recognized it when it was mentioned. Only minuscule percentages recalled TRI facility names when asked for local facilities using hazardous chemicals. Respondents did not recognize most local TRI facilities or know if they used hazardous chemicals. Very few who were aware of TRI information obtained it from the sources Congress intended. Finally, when provided with TRI information, many respondents did not review it and virtually no one took any action. Conclusions. These results raise concerns about the TRI program's effectiveness in enhancing public knowledge of nearby industrial facilities using hazardous chemicals.

Date: 2007
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