The Most (And Least) Toxic Places In America

Every year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires most large industrial facilities to report the volume of toxic chemicals they release into the environment.

The EPA takes this data and consolidates it into the Toxic Releases Inventory (TRI), which is then used to set environmental policies in place.

We analyzed this data along with Priceonomics customer Ode, a company that creates environmentally conscious cleaning products. So we got interested in the information buried in these massive, hard-to-understand reports. What are the most commonly released toxins? In which states and cities are the most chemicals emitted? Which industries contribute the most to this pollution?

Summary of findings:

As a state, Alaska produces the most toxins (834 million pounds)
Zinc and lead compounds (common products of the mining industry) are the most common toxins
Metal mining accounts for 1.5 billion pounds of toxins, while chemicals (515 million) ranks second
On a county level, the Northwest Arctic of Alaska leads the list, but multiple Nevada counties round out the top 5
Kotzebue, AK, produces the most toxins as a city (756 million pounds), and Indianapolis (10.9 million) produces the most out of the 100 most populous cities

The Most (And Least) Toxic Places In America

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Updated December, 2016