Harvard Business School
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Boston, MA 02144
mtoffel at hbs.edu

(617) 384-8043


Environmental Data
Environmental performance indicators

Weighting TRI data

  Measuring environmental performance at the manufacturing-facility level is a complex issue. One of the most popular measures used by the mass media, regulators, and academic researchers is the annual toxic chemical release data provided by the US EPA's Toxic Release Inventory program. This provides facility-level data on transfers and releases of hundreds of toxic chemicals.  US EPA provides the raw data on its website (www.epa.gov/tri/tridata/index.htm), and issues important cautions about how to analyze of this data over several years (as a panel dataset) -- including that reporting thresholds, the chemicals required to be reported, and the industries required to report ("Factors to consider when using TRI data").

One of the issues to consider when using the TRI dataset is that the chemicals range widely -- by several orders of magnitude -- in their potential to harm the environment and human health. These differences are due to variations in their inherent toxicity of the chemicals, their persistence in the environment, and their transport and fate in the environment. In addition, chemicals released to air, water, or soil differ in their ability to harm the environment and human health -- and again these differences vary across chemicals. A recent article evaluates 13 schemes to weight TRI data to account for these differences [Toffel, MW & JD Marshall. 2004. Improving environmental performance assessment: Comparative analysis of weighting methods used to evaluate chemical release inventories, Journal of Industrial Ecology 8(1-2): 143-172]. Models that are more complex (and thus more likely to be accurate) have values for fewer chemicals. Balancing these factors, the article recommends that researchers should use either of two US EPA schemes to create facility-level environment performance indicators based on TRI data.

  • The US EPA's Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) is recommended for estimating impacts to human health;
  • The US EPA's Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical Impacts (TRACI) is recommended for estimating impacts to human health and the environment.

We provide these datasets below to facilitate their use by researchers:


  Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical Impacts (TRACI)
  Chemical weights from RSEI version 2.1.2

Unique identifying variable: "CASNumber"

You can order the RSEI model on CD-ROM from the US EPA RSEI website (www.epa.gov/opptintr/rsei/). The RSEI model includes TRI and other data as well.


Chemical weights from TRACI

Unique identifying variable: "CAS"

The TRACI model is available online at the US EPA TRACI website (www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/std/sab/traci/)

Also, see Jane C. Bare, Gregory A. Norris, David W. Pennington & Thomas McKone. 2002. TRACI: The Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Other Environmental Impacts. Journal of Industrial Ecology 6(3-4) 


Other environmental datasets

The following datasets are publicly available except when noted "commercial"

United States (nationwide)

  • US EPA TRI <www.epa.gov/tri>
    Toxic Release Inventory includes facility-level emissions and off-site transfers of 600+ toxic chemicals from 1987 to present (with 2-year lag).
  • US EPA CHIEF <www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/index.html>
    "Clearinghouse for Inventories & Emission Factors"
  • US EPA Emission Factors Handbook (AP-42) <www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/ap42/>
  • US EPA EnviroFacts  <www.epa.gov/enviro>
    "Environmental Facts Data Warehouse" is portal to several  EPA databases
  • US EPA Air Pollution Data <www.epa.gov/air/data/>
  • US EPA WATERS <http://www.epa.gov/waters/data/>
    "Watershed Assessment, Tracking & Environmental ResultS"
  • Scorecard (Environmental Defense) <www.scorecard.org>
  • EIO-LCA (Carnegie Mellon) <www.eiolca.net>
    Economic input-output analysis-based life-cycle assessment
  • US EPA ECHO <www.epa.gov/echo>
    "Enforcement and Compliance History Online" provides facility-level inspection and compliance data 
  • US EPA TRACI <www,epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/std/sab/iam_traci.htm>
    "Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts" characterizes the potential effects of chemical emissions on ozone depletion, global warming, acidification, eutrophication, photochemical smog, human health (cancer and noncancer), ecotoxicity, fossil fuel use, land use, and water use
  • US EPA RSEI <www.epa.gov/opptintr/rsei>
    "Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators" compares the environmental and human health effects of toxic chemicals released to the environment from industrial sources, at industry and facility-levels.
  • IRRC CEPD <www.irrc.org/prod_serv/products_environmental.htm> (commercial)
    The Investor Responsibility Research Center's "Corporate Environmental Profiles Database" provides firm-level data on environmental mangement systems, emissions, and compliance.
  • National Database on Environmental Management Systems <http://ndems.cas.unc.edu/>


United States (individual states)
Accidents & safety data
United States


Corporate social responsibility data
United States


Demographics data
United States
Global GIS population estimates
Other data
United States

Please suggest more data sources to Mike Toffel <mtoffel@hbs.edu>
Website authors: Julian Marshall & Mike Toffel
Last updated October 12, 2007