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EU Launches Emissions List

New pollution database is similar to U.S. Toxics Release Inventory

by Cheryl Hogue
March 1, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 9

Magnifying Western Europe (below) reveals the emissions infrastructure around areas like Berlin (above).
Magnifying Western Europe (below) reveals the emissions infrastructure around areas like Berlin (above).

The European Union last week launched a pollution registry, a public right-to-know effort comparable to the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory.

The European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) is the first EU-wide database of industrial emissions to air and water. Unlike the U.S. inventory, which began in 1988, the EU system includes emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane and excludes pollutant releases to land. EPER covers 50 pollutants--in contrast to the 650 or so chemicals in the U.S. right-to-know system.

EU emissions data are collected every three years, and EPER currently has pollutant release information for 2001. The database eventually will be updated with numbers for 2004. In the U.S., industry supplies information annually for the inventory.

EPER provides information on pollutants released from 10,000 large and medium-sized industrial facilities in the 15 EU countries as well as Norway, which is not an EU member but volunteered to join the pollution registry. Hungary will voluntarily supply data to EPER beginning in March, according to the European Environment Agency, which maintains the pollutant registry.

The registry is on the Web ( and can be searched by pollutant, country, industrial activity, or specific facility. The system includes satellite images of areas surrounding industrial facilities on the registry.

EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström notes that the registry for pollutants will allow the public "to compare the environmental footprints of different industries in different towns and regions."


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