PERI
Research AreasEnvironmental and Energy EconomicsCorporate Toxics Information Project

Corporate Toxics Information Project

From the Right to Know to the Right to Clean Air and Water

PERI’s Corporate Toxics Information Project develops and disseminates information and analysis on corporate releases of pollutants and the consequences for communities.

Toxic pollutants prove that what you can’t see can hurt you. Pollutants released into our air and water have serious impacts on both human health and ecosystem integrity. But the fact that these pollutants are often invisible – and even when they can be seen (or smelled) are hard to track to their source – impedes efforts by communities to reclaim their right to a healthy and safe environment.

Community-based environmental justice advocates across the country want and need to know what pollutants from which corporate facilities are affecting their communities, and what other communities across the country are impacted by the same corporations. This information can be a potent tool for empowering citizens to address environmental concerns that directly affect their health and their families.

Socially responsible investors want and need information on corporate environmental performance, including the quantity and toxicity of emissions, numbers of people affected, and the extent of disproportionate impacts on low-income communities and people of color. This information can be a crucial input in efforts to engage corporations to address environmental problems locally and nationally.

Goals

  • Corporate rankings: The project will produce rankings that rate corporate performance in terms of (1) the total amount and potency of pollutants (toxicity or reactivity); (2) the resulting pollution burdens, taking into account the number of people impacted; and (3) the extent to which these burdens fall disproportionately on low-income communities and people of color.
  • Regional reports on specific states, regions, and metropolitan areas will be produced and disseminated, responding to requests from groups conducting research, education, and advocacy to reduce environmental and health risks in specific regions. These reports will identify top corporations, top facilities, top chemicals, and the most impacted communities.
  • Industry reports will document corporate performance in key industrial sectors (such as the energy, petroleum, and chemical industries), ranking corporations and facilities within those sectors.
  • A web-based resource on community exposures: PERI intends to develop a searchable data/mapping interface that will allow users to identify corporations and facilities whose toxic releases impact specific localities, the quantities of chemicals they release, their relative toxicity, and the demographic characteristics of the populations exposed. This will be a valuable tool for community members and policy makers seeking to pinpoint health risks in a particular location, and for researchers studying the links between environmental contamination and human health.

The Corporate Toxics Information Project analyzes and disseminates information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on corporate releases of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases and the resulting exposures of communities to air and water pollution hazards. The Project aims to help community-based activists and socially responsible investors to translate the right to know into the right to clean air and water.

Project directors

James K. Boyce, Director, PERI Program on Development, Peacebuilding, and the Environment

Michael Ash, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Read an interview with Professors Boyce and Ash on the Corporate Toxics Information Project