Research AreasEnvironmental and Energy EconomicsCorporate Toxics Information ProjectToxic 100 Water PollutersToxic 100 Water Polluters Press Release

Toxic 100 Names Top Corporate Water Polluters; First Comprehensive Report on Industrial Toxic Releases to Water

Contact Prof. Michael Ash +1-413-545-6329 or

AMHERST, MA, May 16, 2013 – Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst today released the Toxic 100 Water Polluters, the first comprehensive report on toxic releases to water by industrial polluters in the United States. An accompanying report, A Toxic Flood: Why We Need Stronger Regulations to Protect Public Health from Industrial Water Pollution, has been co-published by PERI and Food & Water Watch, the Washington DC-based advocacy organization.

“The Toxic 100 Water Polluters informs communities, consumers, and investors which large companies release the most toxic pollutants into our water,” said Professor James Boyce, co-director of PERI's Corporate Toxics Information Project. “We assess not just how many pounds of pollutants are released, but which are the most toxic and which companies are responsible for the releases. People have a right to know about toxic hazards to which they are exposed. Legislators need to understand the effects of pollution on their constituents.”

The Toxic 100 Water Polluters index is based on water releases of hundreds of chemicals from industrial facilities across the United States. The rankings take into account not only the quantity of chemicals released, but also the toxicity of chemicals.

The top five water polluters are Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, Ferro Corporation, American Electric Power, the United States Department of Defense, and Southern Co. Ohio Valley Electric, American Electric Power, and Southern Co. are corporations primarily engaged in electrical power generation, and Ferro Corporation manufactures materials and coatings. Rounding out the top ten are the Tennessee Valley Authority, PPL Corporation, and Dominion Resources Incorporated -- all energy suppliers -- and Dow Chemical and Evonik Industries, both chemical manufacturers. Seven of the top ten are U.S.-owned corporations, two are Federal agencies, and one, Evonik, is a foreign-owned company. 

Users of the web-based Toxic 100 Water Polluters list can view the details behind each company’s Toxic Score, including the names and locations of individual facilities and the chemicals emitted by those facilities.

The data on chemical releases come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The TRI is widely cited in press accounts that identify the top polluting facilities in various localities. Reports based on TRI data alone have two important limitations: 

  • Raw TRI data on releases into are reported in total pounds of chemicals, without taking into account differences in toxicity. Pound-for-pound, according to the EPA, ingestion of some chemicals is up to 25 billion times more hazardous than ingestion of others.
  • TRI data are reported on a facility-by-facility basis, without combining plants owned by one corporation to get a picture of overall corporate performance.

The Toxic 100 Water Polluters index addresses these problems by using EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) toxicity weights applied to recent TRI data. PERI researchers add up facility-by-facility data to construct corporate rankings.

“In making this information available, we are building on the achievements of the right-to-know movement,” explains Professor Michael Ash, co-director of the Corporate Toxics Information Project. “Our goal is to engender public participation in environmental decision-making, and to help residents translate the right to know into the right to clean water.”


For further information, contact Professor Michael Ash or Professor James K. Boyce at 413.545.6329 or or visit PERI's Corporate Toxics Information Project.