Acute Toxic Substance Releases

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The potential for toxic substance exposure surrounds us at home, work, and school. About 15,000 acute accidental or illegal releases of toxic substances occur in the United States every year.

We Track That

The toxic substance release data on the Tracking Network are from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) National Toxic Substance Incident Program (NTSIP). Surveillance allows for a better understanding of the causes of incidents and injures, which can help public health officials focus prevention efforts and prepare for future toxic substance emergencies.

Types of Data

The acute toxic substance releases data provides information about the number of reported acute toxic substance releases in the United States. The advanced options allow you to explore patterns related to the types of incidents, primary contributing factors, and type of area where the incident occurred.

Acute Toxic Substance Releases
This indicator shows the number of reported incidents, the percent of incidents with at least one injury or fatality, the percent of incidents with evacuations ordered, the rate of injuries or fatalities per 100,000 population, and the rate of incidents per 100,000 population. Data are available for 13 to 16 states from 1996 to 2009 and for 7 states starting in 2010.

Advanced options for this indicator:

  • Health Impact - incidents resulting in at least one reported injury or death within 24 hours of the incident or death.
  • Evacuation Ordered - incidents resulting in evacuation of near-by residents or workers.
  • Incident Type - incidents that occurred in a fixed facility or in transportation. A fixed facility is a stationary site, such as industrial sites, schools, or farms. Incidents can also occur during the transport of a toxic substance either by ground, air, pipeline, or water.
  • Area Type - type of area where an incident occurred, including undeveloped, agricultural, commercial, industrial, or residential. Each incident can have more than one area type.
  • Primary Contributing Factor - main factor contributing to the release of the toxic substance, including bad weather, equipment failure, intentional or illegal acts, or operator error.
  • Release Type - type of substance release including spills, air emissions, and other. Spills are incidents where the substance was released in a liquid or solid form. Air emissions are incidents where the substance was released in a volatilization or aerosolized form. Other includes incidents where the substance was released in a form other than an air emission or spill including fire, explosion and radiation.

More detailed information is available from NTSIP’s public use datasets and the historical datasets from the Hazardous Substance Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) program.

Data Highlight
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Click on the gear icon to view options, like hospitals, public schools, nursing homes, day cares, and more.

Data in Action

These data can be used to

  • track toxic substance release incidents reported by state health departments.
  • monitor trends in acute toxic substance release incidents from various areas across the United States.
  • examine patterns and trends in locations of reported toxic substance releases, types of industries and substances involved, contributing factors, and the resulting injuries and public health actions (i.e. evacuations, decontamination).

Learn More

Explore Acute Toxic Substance Release Data
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Page last reviewed: October 21, 2020