NEHA December 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

34 Volume 85 • Number 5 A D VANC EME N T O F T H E SCIENCE area for brownfield sites. In July 2019, we revisited several sites he documented. There had been few to no environmental improvements at these sites in the last decade. Sites we visited in Gary included old schools, churches, businesses, and residential areas. Photos include a vacant multiunit apartment building (Figure 16) and two vacant businesses including a dry cleaner and an old tire facility (Figure 17). Discussion: Brownfields in Romania and the United States Brownfield sites can occur in any location in the world where people have conducted work that involves use or storage of hazardous materials. As illustrated in this article, sites can be in the middle of a bustling metropolis such as Bucharest or quietly situated along a forgotten highway such as Route 66, or they can be in rural or remote areas. While it is easy to point to abandoned industrial sites as potential areas of concern, it is often more diŠcult to identify and document old, abandoned farmhouses— such as those in the Missouri Bootheel or the Carpathian Mountain—as sites with the potential to pose health risks. Many of the same hazards, however, can exist in both locations due to sources of environmental pollution and the similar fingerprinting of chemical constituents in the polluted environment. When specifically comparing Eastern European brownfields with those in the U.S., urban areas in Romania such as Bucharest and Oradea have high employment rates and nearly all-White populations. These demographics are very di•erent from the urban areas with the heaviest brownfields burden in the U.S., mainly those with predominant populations of color or lower socioeconomic status (e.g., Gary and East Chicago, Indiana). Often, many of the brownfield sites in the U.S. are more isolated geographically (e.g., Chinle, Arizona, and the Missouri Bootheel), lessening the visual exposure of the sites to larger numbers of people. The rural, mountainous areas of Transylvania in Romania are similarly isolated, bringing the saying “out of sight, out of mind” to consciousness. This varied landscape of geographic locations of brownfields, the environmental impacts of pollution at the sites, and their proximity to human populations play a significant role in the source-to-receptor paradigm and the extent and scope of potential adverse public health e•ects associated with exposure to pollutants emanating from brownfield sites. These factors necessitate proper training of local scientists, policy makers, and the public about brownfield issues from a local perspective to advance a successful brownfields restoration program that is responsive to local, ecological, and public health concerns of all stakeholders. We should note that when examining contaminants at brownfield sites, many similar contaminants of public health concern exist regardless of geographical location—these contaminants include mold, lead, asbestos, petroleum products, solvents, volatile organic compounds, PCBs, PAHs, and heavy metals. The industrial sites often have a more complex pollution profile that includes various pollutants in air, water, and soil. The sites visited, whether the communist-era factories in Oradea compared to industrial sites in Gary and East Chicago, or the old farm buildings in the Carpathian Mountains compared to sharecropper cottages in the Bootheel, told similar stories regardless of their country of origin. Similar human industrial activity conducted around comparable areas can produce similar contaminants of concern that threaten human health across the globe. Once the source and constituents of environmental pollution are identified via initial site investigation of brownfields, site remediation alternatives can be developed to clean up the site per health-based cleanup standards and return it to productive use. The entire process requires expertise from different disciplines including engineers, geologists, hydrogeologists, chemists, statisticians, toxicologists, public health professionals, and risk assessment experts. In the U.S., under the U.S. EPA Brownfields Program, this process is well-developed, implemented, and administered by state and local agencies from administrative, legal, technical, and financial perspectives. In Romania, however, there is a less developed and formally adopted process that is practiced, serving as a potential impediment to the Marktown in East Chicago, Indiana FIGURE 14 Demographic Indicators for Gary, East Chicago, and Lake County in Indiana Indicator Gary, Indiana East Chicago, Indiana Lake County, Indiana Population 68,325 26,099 498,558 Median household income (in 2020 dollars) $31,315 $35,396 $57,530 Persons in poverty (%, below 100% of poverty level) 33.1 30.6 15.8 Race (%) White 14.5 24.5 71.0 Black or African American 77.9 36.0 24.5 American Indian and Alaska Native 0.1 0.1 0.6 Hispanic or Latino 8.9 57.5 20.4 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2021b. TABLE 3