Total phosphorus: what you need and don't need to consider for the National Pollutant Release Inventory

Many industrial chemicals and products contain phosphorus.  Depending on the application, here are some items that you may (or may not) need to consider in your threshold calculations.


  • consider phosphorus in metal production, recycling or casting, or in metal that is melted and recast
  • do not consider phosphorus contained in metal products that are welded or undergo mechanical transformation, in metal sheets or in structural steel rod and bar products

Sealants and adhesives

  • consider phosphorus used in sealant and adhesive production and recycling.
  • when using sealants or adhesives, do not consider phosphorus contained within the sealants or adhesives.

Greases, oils and lubricants

  • consider phosphorus used in grease, oil and lubricant production and recycling
  • when using greases, oils and lubricants, do not consider phosphorus contained within the greases, oils and lubricants


  • consider phosphorus used in plastic production and recycling
  • do not consider phosphorus contained in plastics


  • consider phosphorus used in paint production and recycling
  • when using paints, do not consider phosphorus contained within the paints.


While phosphorus is essential to life, high concentrations can cause direct toxic effects.

Releases of any form of phosphorus must be reported because of the harmful effects of biologically available phosphorus in water. Phosphorus readily changes forms; releases to air can settle on land or water, and releases to land can leach into water.

Phosphorus can increase the growth of natural flora and fauna in rivers and coastal waters. It can alter biological diversity, reduce recreational potential and degrade source water for human consumption and industrial uses.

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