NEHA December 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

December 2022 • Journal of Environmental Health 29 are now vacant and deteriorated, leaving a trail of brownfields across the country. Our tour of brownfields in Bucharest included former communist-era sites and other historical buildings. Sites featured in this article include a former communist-era Romanian museum and a former mid-20th century hotel. The Radio House (or the Dâmboviţa Center) is an example of a typical communist-era building (Figure 1). It was built in the late 1980s as a Romanian Communist Party museum. From one of the building’s balconies on August 23, 1989, former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu watched the last communist-style parade in Romania, dedicated to Romania’s National Day. Currently the unfinished building is abandoned, but there are plans for converting it in to a large residential and commercial center (O‘ceRentInfo.RO, 2022). The contaminants of concern are lead-based paint and asbestos. The second featured site is the former Dunărea Hotel (Figure 2). It was built in the interwar period (1935–1940) and for several decades was one of the most famous hotels in Bucharest. An earthquake in 1977 severely damaged the building—it is now in an advanced stage of decay and has been vacant for over 30 years. As the hotel is in a prominent location in the city, it is a priority for redevelopment. Plans for rehabilitation and transformation of this historical building exist, but no project has been implemented yet (Neagu, 2018). Contaminants of concern include lead-based paint and asbestos. Transylvania and Oradea Prior to a tour of Oradea, coauthors Dr. Laurel Berman and photojournalist Lloyd DeGrane independently hiked over 50 miles through the Carpathian Mountains in Southern Transylvania. Brownfields there were primarily rural and consisted largely of abandoned and deteriorated former farmhouses (a typical rural site is shown in Figure 3), which based on their age could have lead-based paint, asbestos, and mold contamination. In some of the villages, former communist-era vacant factories loom over the landscape. During our visit in Oradea, our tour included historical military brownfields and communist-era industrial sites. Sites included a former fortress and a former aluminum production industrial site. The city of Oradea is in Northwest Romania and has an approximate population of 221,473 (Romanian National Institute of Statistics, 2019). Because of its geostrategic importance (a combination of political and geographic locations that are primed for strategic planning on various levels), Oradea played a significant historical role in its 1,000-year history as a bridge between the West and East in Europe. Oradea declined, however, during the 20th century. In the last 10 years, Oradea has received $150 million Euros from the European Union (EU) to improve urban infrastructure and increase the quality of life for its residents (Simic, 2018). Although the city has begun a revitalization process with EU funds (Morar, Lukić, et al., 2021), many brownfield sites remain that need remediation and restoration, similar to many other cities in Romania. Like Bucharest, Oradea has a low unemployment rate of 0.3%, approximately one quarter that of Romania. Employed people make up 42.7% of the population, which is approximately double the percentage of employed people in the country (Table 1; Romanian National Institute of Statistics, 2019). The city of Oradea had its greatest urban transformation and economic growth during the communist period (1948–1989), with the implementation of the central planning and economic development model, primarily based on heavy industry (Morar et al., 2019). Over time, this model proved to be economically ine‘cient. The political and Demographic Indicators for Romania and Select Cities Indicator Romania Bucharest Oradea Population (total) 22,193,286 2,143,132 221,473 Employed (total) 5,164,471 984,014 94,612 Unemployed (total) 257,865 15,248 629 Employed (%) 23.3 45.9 42.7 Unemployed (%) 1.2 0.7 0.3 Source: Romanian National Institute of Statistics, 2019. TABLE 1 Radio House in Bucharest FIGURE 1 Dunărea Hotel in Bucharest FIGURE 2 Old Farm Buildings in the Historical Region of Transylvania Bounded by the Carpathian Mountain Range FIGURE 3