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Toxic releases by Illinois industries rise in 2010

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Toxic releases by Illinois industries rise in 2010

Flickr/Aracelli Arroyo

Toxic emissions from Illinois industry increased more than 10 percent in 2010 over the year before, but pollution has still been trending downward over the last decade.

Illinois companies emitted more than 100 million pounds of poisonous gasses, heavy metals and other chemicals. That’s a jump over the prior year, but still much less than any of the seven years before.

And many of those toxins were disposed of properly – the amount that actually escaped into the air remained near a nine-year low.

Still, Environment Illinois’s Bruce Ratain says the state should be doing better.

“It’s easy to say, oh we’ve done so much in Illinois to promote clean energy, to clean up dirty coal plants,” said Ratain, a clean energy associate with Environment Illinois. “It’s less a question of, is it marginally higher than it was last year, and more, wait a minute, it’s pretty surprising that it’s still as high as it is.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency released the new data yesterday as part of its Toxic Release Inventory. A spokesman for the Illinois EPA cautions that the numbers have some limitations, as the totals are based on self-reporting. They might also be affected by the recession.

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