Across the United States, big corporations are releasing toxins into our air, land and water. Many people have no idea about the mess they’re in. Including here in NJ.

Back in 1985, there was an accidental chemical spill in West Virginia. In light of that, Congress stepped up with the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Now, we've got the EPA Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) on our side, giving us the information on exactly who's releasing what toxins into our neighborhoods. It's like shining a spotlight on these companies.

So, Stacker crunched numbers in a study to find out who the culprits are and just how many of us are potentially in harm's way.

They used the EPA's data mixed with the stats from the U.S. Census Bureau's five-year American Community Survey in order to find out how many folks in each state live near places oozing toxins. Plus, they found out exactly who the biggest culprits are.

New Jersey was high on the charts in 2020. Ranked ninth out of 56 states and territories, they belched out a whopping 11.5 million pounds of toxins. Yep, you heard that right—air, water, and land. And who's to blame? These two big companies: are Phillips 66's Refinery and Clean Earth of New Jersey. They released around 2.85 million and 1.7 million pounds of toxins each. Ouch.

And, according to the study, New Jersey has 325 toxic release spots, which brings us to this shocking statistic: 11.9% of New Jerseyans live close to these danger zones.

EPA's aforementioned TRI program knows 770 chemicals that are serious troublemakers. Any place using these chemicals more than average makes the list.

The chemicals tagged as "toxic" by TRI are bad news, causing cancer and other health issues, plus harming the environment. The companies report their yearly chemical releases to the TRI. "Release" means they're sending those chemicals flying in the air, water, or ground.

In a world where information is power, the EPA's TRI program hands us the tools to make change happen. It's like getting a backstage pass to a cleaner, safer future.

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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