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Free TRI: Toxic Release Inventory Maps in ESRI Shapefile Format

Jump To: What is TRI? - Homeland Security - Project Ideas - How to Use - About Accuracy - Community Mapping - Base Maps - Download

EPA recently released the 2007 TRI data.
Click here for more information and new GIS maps.

Knowledge is Power: Explore the
hazardscape of potential toxic risks
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Latest Toxic Release Inventory Maps

New release is here - Each GIS shapefile map is bundled with basemaps and additional TRI related information - you can download immediately - EPA released the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data files for 2004 in 2006 - It seems to take EPA well over a year to make this data available so this is the very latest TRI release from EPA.


Each map comes bundled with easy to follow instructions, state boundaries, highways, lakes, rivers, cities and and access to Arcexplorer, a free and easy to use GIS map viewer.

Point Data for each State & Territory

We have created GIS point layers based on states and U.S.territory data. Each large state is in an individual file. Smaller states and territories are grouped together.

What is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program?

In 1984 a deadly cloud of methyl isocyanate killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India. Shortly thereafter, there was a serious chemical release at a sister plant in West Virginia. These incidents underscored demands by industrial workers and communities in several states for information on hazardous materials. Public interest and environmental organizations around the country accelerated demands for information on toxic chemicals being released "beyond the fence line" -- outside of the facility. Against this background, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted in 1986. (This section is an excerpt from an article on the EPA website. Click here) to read the article in its entirety.)

More About TRI

Each year thousands of mining operations, power plants, chemical manufacturers, petroleum terminals and many other (over 23,000) facilities in the U.S. must report their toxic releases to EPA. There is about a 15 month delay between the end of the reporting year and the time that EPA releases the data to the public. Click here to go to EPA's TRI 2004 website.

Homeland Security, Terrorism and Toxic Chemical Facilities

In Reflections on Homeland Security and American Federalism (Click here for entire report) Pietro S. Nivola, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institute says:

Yet, the chances that a terrorist attack could turn any U.S. nuclear installation into a Chernobyl are practically nil. Concern would be better directed at hardening other sites, like commercial chemical plants. (About as many people died in 1984 when methyl isocyanate leaked from a plant in Bhopal, India, as perished in the World Trade Center.)

You can find out more about the risks chemical facilities in your neighborhood pose by clicking here and requesting a copy of the executive summary of the Risk Management Plan (RMP).

Accidental or intentional major releases of chemicals can cause instant death and injury. The threat of terrorism at a chemical facility, though very serious, is not the only threat these facilities pose. The TRI data tells us about slow regulated releases of the same chemicals over long periods of time. These chemicals often buildup in our environment and in our bodies causing chronic health problems and possibly death. The human and ecological consequences of these "monitored" releases may be just as catastrophic over time as a single release.

Consider this. The TRI accounts for only 667 of the tens of thousands of chemicals in our environment, does not account for accumulative effects, does not account for the combined effects. Yet, each year billions of pounds of just these chemicals are legally released to the environment adding upon the sum of the billions of pounds from previous years and all those chemicals that are not accounted for at all.

Ideas for using the TRI data and maps

Here are some ideas for using the TRI data and maps with your GIS program or with Arcexplorer, the free GIS, and our Learn2Map tutorial:

  • Find the largest polluters in your neighborhood and ask them what steps they are taking to reduce their pollution.
  • Do environmental justice research.
  • Publish a toxic atlas of your neighborhood, county or state.
  • Do relocation investigations.
  • Do local facility audits.
  • As a catalyst for forming a local toxic watch group.
  • Distribute printed toxic maps at local events.
  • Use as an aid in landuse planning.
  • Identify potential security-related vulnerabilities.
  • Do habitat and ecological assessment and planning.
  • Assess potential health risks.
  • Study the relationship between health effects and releases.
  • Track offsite transfers of toxics.
  • Do industrial ecology research -- waste from one facility may be "raw" material for another.
  • Discover inaccuracies in reporting and/or location.

I am sure that you can think of other ways of using the TRI maps and data to empower yourself and your community. If you do, please let me know and I will add them here.

If you put your maps online, we will add them to the growing number of web-based toxic and pollution maps linked from our Global Environmental Risk Map Network.

Using the TRI Maps with a GIS Program

Our TRI (read more about TRI) shapefiles work with the free ArcExplorer GIS viewer, ArcView GIS, and many other GIS and mapping programs. Includes easy to follow instructions that show you how to add streets, highways, census tracts and much more to your maps plus how to use the free ArcExplorer GIS. If you are new to GIS, see our free MapCruzin MapTutorial. Check our free GIS and free GIS data pages for more information. You may also use the data in an Excel spreadsheet.

Once your map is opened like this you can zoom-in, move around, click on features for more information, change colors, add labels and add more detailed layers such as streets, railroads, etc. for free. Full instructions for doing this and more are available to you in our free MapCruzin MapTutorial.

Accuracy - Problems with TRI Data

Once you view and explore the map you will see that there are some facilities that appear to be located incorrectly. These are the result of the facilities in question providing inaccurate locational data (longitude and latitude) to EPA and EPA not double-checking the data. EPA says (see, "We check facilities' reports for data quality. When we find a potential error, we notify the facility. However, we cannot correct a reporting error in the TRI database until the facility sends us a certified revision or withdrawal. As you use TRI data, be aware that the database may reflect uncorrected facility reporting errors."

Unfortunately you will find many TRI reporting facilities that are located incorrectly. Some will be across town from where they should be, in other counties or even in other states! Locational data, like all other self-reported TRI data, is supposed to be accurate -- it is required by law. EPA provides a "how-to" so that facilities can locate themselves using USGS maps. GPS is another relatively easy way that facilities could employ to provide accurate data. Nonetheless, though this seems quite simple, many facilities do not report their locational data accurately. A small number of facilities do not report any locational data whatsoever. Ones with no locational data or ones that are so far off that they make no sense to map were extracted from the map file and are included in Excel spreadsheet of unmapped facilities included with each map layer download.

My procedure for getting the best locational accuracy that the data allows is as follows. RTK Net provides fields for longitude and latitude as well as preferred longitude and preferred latitude. When preferred latitude and preferred longitude is present in the database, I locate based on this data. When the preferred latitude and preferred longitude is not present, I locate the facility using the longitude and latitude fields. If the longitude and latitude provides obviously erroneous locations, these facilities are not mapped and are present in the Excel spreadsheet of unmapped facilities include with the base map layers that you may download with each map file. Likewise, facilities with no locational data are also included in the Excel spreadsheet.

But why (you should ask) are there facilities on the map that are mislocated? The bottom-line is that TRI is self-reported data and there is little enforcement done by EPA to assure that the locational information and the rest of the data reported is accurate. The larger question to ask is if something as simple as getting the locational data right is not accomplished by the facility and is not checked by EPA, what does this say about the accuracy of the balance of the information reported in the TRI data?

Community Mapping & Public Participation GIS

The database can be geocoded using address, city, county, state and zip to generate a correct longitude and latitude. This process usually misses many locations. At the local level citizens can "reality check" the data to determine if facilities are missing from their communities or if there are facilities on the map that don't belong. This is part of doing public participation GIS. Citizens can determine locational data by using a handheld GPS or noting the location on a paper map (if you have better locational data for any facility please contact me).

It is the legal responsibility of each facility to provide data that is accurate, including locational data. Contact EPA ([email protected]) and ask them what steps are being taken to insure that ALL the information in the TRI data is reported accurately. More information about the Toxic Release Inventory is available at

This is also an opportunity for community mapping. Folks in their communities know where facilities are or should be or can find out. With the use of GPS, the facilities longitude and latitude can be updated in the GIS database and a new layer, verified and created by local community members may be created. Community members can communicate with local facilities and ask them why they failed to provide accurate locational data and help them to do so in the future.

Basemaps Included & Additional TRI Information

We also include a full set of base maps and other materials. Check the readme file that is included in each download.

Download Free TRI Maps Now

Each of these digital maps (shapefiles) are now FREE. Just our way of thanking you for your support and to encourage community mapping.

To download the maps, please signup below so that we can advise you of updates and occasional changes. We promise that your email address is secure and we will not share it with anyone else. You will receive a message in a few seconds that directs you to the download page. Thanks.

Signup Here

Click here to download the 2004 TRI Shapefiles.

Data Source & Geographic Locations

We derived the geographical locations of these facilities using the longitude and latitude that are included in this public data release of the TRI data. The EPA public release also includes such information as amount and name of chemical released, amount of chemical stored on site and other useful information. We have provided the complete data along with the maps. To download the public data yourself (without our maps of course), go to

Useful Toxic Chemical Resources

Check our Worst Case Scenarios web page and our Toxic & Nuclear Risks In Your Backyard? for links for other resources that you can use to identify potential risks.


Didn't find what you are looking for? We've been online since 1996 and have created 1000's of pages. Search below and you may find just what you are looking for.

Michael R. Meuser
Data Research & GIS Specialist is an independent firm specializing in GIS project development and data research. We created the first U.S. based interactive toxic chemical facility maps on the internet in 1996 and we have been online ever since. Learn more about us and our services.

Have a project in mind? If you have data, GIS project or custom shapefile needs contact Mike.

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