NEHA December 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

December 2022 • Journal of Environmental Health 31 established an African American community and a school to provide a higher-quality education for African Americans than what was available at the time. Howardville is centrally located in the Bootheel, with a reported census population of 346 that is 96.2% Black or African American (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020a). The household median income for Howardville residents is $30,577 and 14.5% of the population is below 100% of the poverty level (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020a). In contrast, the total population of New Madrid County is 17,275, of which 81.0% of the population is White and 15.8% is Black or African American. The household median income in New Madrid County is $40,129 and 20.7% of the population is below 100% of the poverty level (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020b). In the 1930s, cotton was the primary cash crop in the Bootheel and many of the farmers were renters or sharecroppers (i.e., farmers who rented land and paid in shares of crops). Many of these farmers were Black who, in the post-slavery times, were paid much less than other farmworkers (Cantor, 1969). In the late 1930s, landowners did not want to share government subsidies with sharecroppers and planned a mass eviction. A local minister, Owen Whitfield, protested the ongoing evictions and organized the Sharecroppers Roadside Demonstration of 1939. Hundreds of sharecroppers camped along the main highways of the Bootheel, drawing national attention to their plight. Ultimately the Farm Security Administration created low-rent housing developments, known as the Delmo Homes, for 500 sharecropper families (Cantor, 1969). Many of these housing developments currently are occupied by family members descended from the sharecroppers. Some of the homes that might have asbestoscontaining material and lead-based paint have become abandoned and deteriorated. The Bootheel area is littered with petroleum brownfields, abandoned cotton gins, and boarded or vacant commercial and residential buildings. While many suspected brownfields and land reuse sites have not yet received assessment or cleanup funding, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) My Environment website search of Bootheel counties lists one Superfund (National Priorities List) site in Sikeston (New Madrid County) and 11 brownfields that have received U.S. EPA funding throughout the Bootheel (U.S. EPA, 2020a). A review of Bootheel brownfields in the U.S. EPA database Cleanups in My Community indicates that contaminants of concern include petroleum, solvents (e.g., volatile organic compounds), lead, and asbestos (U.S. EPA, 2021). The websites My Environment and Cleanups in My Community only list sites that have received funding from U.S. EPA for assessment or cleanup, including Superfund or National Priorities List sites, or sites that are required to report emissions into the environment (e.g., emit permitted amounts of hazardous waste). Sites featured Exterior of Howardville High School (Left) and Interior of the Howardville High School Gymnasium (Right) in Howardville, Missouri Inactive Cotton Gin in the Missouri Bootheel (Left) and Drums Stored Outside an Inactive Cotton Gin Undergoing Demolition (Right) in the Missouri Bootheel FIGURE 6 FIGURE 7 Active Gas Station With Old Fuel Tanker Trucks in Portageville, Missouri Vacant Historic Sharecropper Home in Homestown, Missouri FIGURE 8 FIGURE 9