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Pollutant release and transfer register

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Title: Pollutant release and transfer register  
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Subject: National Pollutant Release Inventory, Social responsibility, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, AccountAbility, Stakeholder engagement
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Pollutant release and transfer register

Pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) are systems to collect and disseminate information on environmental releases and transfers of toxic chemicals from industrial and other facilities.

They were established in several countries after the 1984 Bhopal Disaster, and the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, which affirmed the "right-to-know" of communities and workers about toxics chemicals and other substances of concern.

PRTRs and Community Right to Know

In many countries industrial facilities need a permit to operate processes that are causing environmental pressures. Authorities have to balance the interests of different actors when issuing such permits and will reflect this balance in the conditions and requirements put down in the permit. Companies and civilians living near to the facilities generally have quite different levels of understanding and information on the processes and the environmental impact. In a democratic context however a level playing field for all actors involved in permitting decisions is paramount to acceptance of the decisions. Against this background, the Aarhus Convention requires the parties to this convention to set up PRTRs as a tool to provide the general public this type of information UNECE (2003) Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers.

PRTR data quality

PRTRs are a type of emission inventories, typically containing data on emissions to the environment from individual industrial facilities. Data collection methods for individual facility emission data in PRTRs typically consist of questionnaires, sent to individual facilities or industries. The answers are validated upon receipt by the competent authorities and published on a public web site. This procedure for the case of EPER includes the following steps[1]

  • The competent authorities in each European Union Member State select all facilities that operate at least one of the activities listed in the European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) directive with a capacity above a threshold as defined in the EPER decision and notifies these facilities;
  • The facilities determine emissions following the provisions of the EPER Guidance document and report these to the competent authorities using a prescribed format.
  • The authorities validate individual facility reports and combine the information from all facilities within the country into an electronic report to the European Commission.
  • The Commission publishes the data on the EPER website and initiates an evaluation of the reporting process that results in a review report (the latest of these is the.[2]

In accordance with the ideas of Community right to Know, this procedure ensures that data are published as soon as they are available. Despite the validation by competent authorities, the data remain essentially the facilities' estimates and data quality control essentially depends on data users asking questions. Since facilities are by definitions only a part of all activities in a country, the sum of the emissions reported in a PRTR should for each pollutant be less or equal to the total emissions reported in national inventories. This nis not always the case (see the EPER Review Report).


PRTRs include those of


  1. ^ European Union (2006)
  2. ^ EPER Review Report 2004


  • European Union (2006). Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 January 2006 concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register and amending Council Directives 91/689/EEC and 96/61/EC, Official Journal of the European Union, L 33, 4.2.2006
  • European Commission (2007), EPER European Pollutant Emission Register; EPER Review Report 2004

External links

Further reading

  • "What is a PRTR?" (United Nations Institute for Training and Research)
  • "What is a PRTR? (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
  • "Background: PRTRs and Their Purposes" (United Nations Environment Program)

National PRTR websites:

  • US Toxics Release Inventory
  • Canadian National Pollutant Release Inventory
  • Mexican Registro de Emisiones y Transferencia de Contaminantes
  • Australian National Pollutant Inventory
  • Japan PRTR
  • Swedish Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

Regional PRTR websites

  • European Pollutant Emissions Register
  • North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) page

PRTR Resources

  • Centre for PRTR Data (OECD)
  • Resource Centre for PRTR Release Estimation Techniques (OECD)
  • PRTR Virtual Classroom (UNITAR)
  • PRTR Capacity Building Library (UNITAR)
  • NPRI Toolbox for Reporting Facilities (Canada)

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Pollutant Release Report (Active Canadian Pollution Information Site)
  • Scorecard (US Pollution Information Site)
  • Right-to-Know Network (US)
  • PollutionWatch (Canadian Pollution Information Site-ARCHIVED)
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