Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program

2011 TRI National Analysis: Urban Communities - Chicago Metropolitan Area

Metro Chicago
TRI facilities in Chicago Metropolitan Area

Quick Facts for 2011

Number of TRI Facilities: 708
Total On-site and Off-site Disposal
or Other Releases:
66 million lb
Total On-site: 34.5 million lb
• Air: 12.5 million lb
• Water: 2.5 million lb
• Land: 18.7 million lb
• Underground Injection: 790 thousand lb
Total Off-site: 31.5 million lb

View definitions of TRI terms

The Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI metropolitan area is the third largest in the United States, with a population of 9.5 million. It includes nine counties in northern Illinois, four counties in northwest Indiana, and one county in southeast Wisconsin. The metropolitan area covers 9,581 square miles on the Chicago Plain, a flat and broad area along the southwestern curve of Lake Michigan. Principle cities in the metropolitan area include: Chicago, IL; Joliet, IL; Naperville, IL; Elgin, IL; Gary, IN; Evanston, IL; Arlington Heights, IL; Schaumburg, IL; Skokie, IL; and Des Plaines, IL.

Lake Michigan is the drinking water source for over five million people in the area. Heavy traffic, industrial pollution and sewage overflows threaten the health of the lake. Air pollutants from industries and power plants are also a pollution source as they are deposited from the atmosphere into the lake. Other important waterways in the metropolitan area include the Chicago River, the Des Plaines River, the Fox Chain O'Lakes, and the Fox River.

The Chicago metropolitan area is one of the major industrial centers in the United States, manufacturing chemicals, petroleum products, machinery, food, steel and other metal products, automobiles and other transportation equipment, printed materials, plastic and rubber products, computers, and telecommunications gear. The area is a major electric power producer with several large electric power plants, many of which are coal-fired. It is also an important transportation hub; the Port of Chicago connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River via the Illinois River.

Primary metals facilities (such as iron and steel mills and smelters) had the largest surface water discharges, on-site land disposal or other releases, and on-site underground injection of all sectors in 2011. This sector accounted for more than two-thirds of each type of disposal or other releases listed above in the metropolitan Chicago area. This sector's chemicals with the largest disposal or other releases included nitrate compounds released to water, zinc and manganese and their compounds to on-site landfills, and ammonia and phenol in underground injection wells. Electric utilities reported 27% of total air releases in the metropolitan Chicago area for 2011. Over 70% of the air releases from electric utilities were sulfuric and hydrochloric acids.

Total on-site disposal or other releases for the Chicago metropolitan area decreased by 20% from 2003 to 2011 but increased by 6% from 2010 to 2011. Air releases decreased 29% from 2003 to 2011 and by 18% from 2010 to 2011. Surface water discharges decreased by 50% from 2003 to 2011 and by 11% from 2010 to 2011. The primary metals total on-site disposal or other releases decreased by 26% from 2003 to 2011, but increased by 10% from 2010 to 2011 due to a 17% increase in on-site disposal or other releases. This sector reported a 8% decrease in surface water discharges and a 5% decrease in underground injection from 2010 to 2011. Electric utilities' air releases decreased by 3% from 2003 to 2011, including a 44% decrease from 2010 to 2011.

Top Five Metro Chicago

Top Five Metro Chicago

Top Five Chemicals by Environmental Medium Chicago Metropolitan Area, 2011

Top Five Metro Chicago

Top Five Metro Chicago

Top Five Metro Chicago

Top Five Metro Chicago

Note: This page was published in January of 2013 and uses the TRI National Analysis dataset made public in TRI Explorer in November 2012.