NEHA December 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

30 Volume 85 • Number 5 A D VANC EME N T O F T H E SCIENCE economic changes during the last decades of the 20th century led to the transition to the free market economy that is currently in place. Many communist-era industries could not adjust to the new economic environment, however, leaving behind large urban areas of derelict, abandoned, and underused brownfields (Morar et al., 2016). One of the brownfields case studies in Oradea is the Fortress of Oradea (Figure 4), which represents the initial medieval urban nucleus of Oradea. It was built as early as the 11th century under the rule of King Ladislaus I. The medieval fortress consisted of a circular inner castle, highlighted by a pentagonal outer castle. The fortress was rebuilt in the 16th century to represent Renaissance architecture and center-oriented urban planning. Military use of the fortress ended by the middle of the 19th century, after which it served only as auxiliary facilities. Between 1947 and 1952, the northern section of the fortress was used by the former Romanian Secret Police (i.e., the Securitate). The fortress also housed military units between 1945 and 1989, but after 1975 the structure entered a deterioration phase and was used mainly as military warehouses. Renovation work on the fortress occurred between 2010 and 2021 to remove leadbased paint and mold and to redevelop the site. Now the renovation e‘orts are focused on the surrounding defensive walls, which are scheduled to be done during the next 2 years. The fortress currently functions as a multicultural place for the city, o‘ering tourist sights, cultural programs, concerts, festivals, and various events. As a traditional military site incorporated in a city’s urban architecture, this site’s heritage as a Renaissance structure in Transylvania is a valuable regional asset. In Oradea, industry began to develop after 1950. During the communist era, large industrial areas were developed, many of which are now brownfields. The former aluminum factory in Oradea that began operating in 1965 is part of a typical communist-era site (Figure 5). For several decades, the factory was one of the first nonferrous metallurgy sites in Romania. This industrial development was based on the availability of local bauxite deposits (Brejea et al., 2019). The reduced demand for raw material in the 1990s led to closure of the bauxite mining unit in 1999, leaving behind contaminated land including an open pit mine and abandoned processing facilities (Dragastan et al., 2009). The factory was permanently closed in 2006. The massive amounts of bauxite residue saturated with caustic soda resulted in an 800,000 m2 surface of “red mud” from decades of aluminum processing. The historical operations at this site released highly alkaline compounds including trace amounts of toxic compounds, heavy metals, and radioactive materials that produce radon, which resulted in environmental pollution of air, groundwater, and soil. Such pollutant exposures potentially can result in adverse population health impacts such as respiratory illness (Economic Commission for Europe, 2001; Kovacs et al., 2017; Totorean, 2019). The aluminum factory and other industrial sites from the communist era left a landscape of large, abandoned, and contaminated sites throughout Romania. Often, these sites are contiguous, which complicates the contamination profile. Brownfields in the United States The Missouri Bootheel Our first U.S. brownfields tour was the Missouri Bootheel. The Bootheel is in the far southeast corner of the state, which looks like the heel of a boot, hence the name “Bootheel.” It is a largely rural area that is bisected by Interstate 55 and Highways 60 and 61. Historically, the Bootheel was a swampy wetland area formed by flooding from the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The area is referred to as the Mississippi Alluvial Basin (Missouri Department of Conservation, 2005). The five primary counties within the heel shape of the boot include Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, and Scott counties. These Bootheel counties have the lowest health rankings among all 115 Missouri counties (Missouri Bootheel Regional Consortium Inc., 2019). Howardville, in New Madrid County, was founded by Travis Howard in 1953, who Exterior (Left) and Interior (Right) of the Fortress of Oradea, Romania Former Aluminum Factory (Left) and Bauxite-Contaminated Soil on the Former Aluminum Factory Site (Right) in Oradea, Romania FIGURE 4 FIGURE 5