TOXIC POLLUTION IN IND. UP 22.7 PERCENT

TOXIC POLLUTION IN IND. UP 22.7 PERCENT

Indiana industry pumped 212 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, land and water in 1988, or about 38 pounds for every person in the state, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

That was a whopping 22.7 percent increase from the total Indiana emissions reported in 1987, with hazardous chemicals released into the ground accounting for the great majority of that increase.Indiana's record looks even worse considering that the national total of toxic chemical emissions dropped 8.8 percent from 1987 to a total of 4.6 billion pounds in 1988.

Only four other states released more toxic chemicals into the environment - Louisiana, Texas, Ohio and Florida.

Max Michael, who heads the section of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management charged with tracking toxic chemicals, said he wasn't sure what had caused the increase.

Indiana officials didn't receive a copy of the report from the Environmental Protection Agency until it was released to the public.

"A lot of different things could have happened and it's going to take some time to sift through" the data, Mr. Michael said.

Despite the nationwide decline in the release of toxic chemicals into the environment, Rep. Gerry Sikorski, D-Minn., said that "these figures are absolutely shocking."

Rep. Sikorski, who wrote the law requiring the annual reports, said that ''one or two molecules, not pounds, of some of these chemicals may be poisonous to a child."

EPA Administrator William K. Reilly cautioned that the totals do not translate easily into a health threat. The annual total does not indicate how much of any chemical was emitted at one time or the amount of public exposure.

Nonetheless, both Rep. Sikorski and Mr. Reilly said the daunting numbers should help fuel the move in Congress for greater regulation of toxic chemicals in the air, which make up about half of the chemical emissions.

The EPA now regulates the emissions of just seven of these chemicals, but the pending overhaul of the Clean Air Act would regulate another 191 chemicals.

The Senate already has passed its version of the bill; the House is expected to vote on it within the next several weeks.

"To allow these companies to go on polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the playgrounds on which our children play is unacceptable," Rep. Sikorski said.

In addition to boosting political support for clean air legislation, the annual report of toxic pollution started in 1987 has helped prod industries to

cut emissions, Mr. Reilly said.