NEHA December 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

December 2022 • Journal of Environmental Health 35 development of brownfield sites. Instituting a robust brownfields revitalization program nationally, regionally, and locally may be essential to the successful return of sites to productive use, elimination or reduction of potential adverse ecological and public health impacts, and simultaneous revitalization of the economy. In Romanian brownfields areas, the unemployment and poverty level are low, and the population is primarily White. In the U.S., brownfields areas we visited were characterized by high unemployment, high poverty rates, and racial and ethnic variability. In the U.S., a high prevalence of predominantly Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations reside within or near brownfield case study sites. The U.S. brownfields areas we visited could be considered to be environmental justice communities. Environmental justice emphasizes that all people have an equal opportunity to live, work, and play in a healthy environment. Communities with a high percentage of brownfields and hazardous waste sites often have a disproportionate burden of environmental and health hazards. In the U.S., many of these areas are lower income and historically marginalized communities. These factors highlight significant environmental justice concerns regarding the prevalence of brownfield sites in the U.S. being overwhelmingly situated in similarly low-socioeconomic regions with heavier pollution and health-risk burden for the populations living there. Our ability to use U.S. EPA-developed tools such as My Environment and Cleanups in My Community facilitated our mapping of locations and identifying source profiles and other critical information for brownfield sites and/or other hazardous waste sites within the inventory of the U.S. EPA across the case study areas. These tools are available to the public and not only empower communities about the potential hazards in their own neighborhoods but also allow tracking of improvements in environmental and public health conditions over time in a specific locality. Similar tools are not available in Romania. We suggest the development of similar tools in Europe to share information with the public transparently, to empower communities, and to foster brownfields development and restoration. Conclusion While brownfields can lead to poor environmental conditions and disinvestment in the communities in which they are located, they exist throughout the world. Brownfields provide a rich global laboratory to study and comprehensively advance the science and practice of site investigation, remediation, and restoration with stakeholder input from various perspectives: administrative, legal, environmental, public health, economic, and sustainability. Thus, brownfields can be treated as opportunities to foster and re-create communities to improve overall community health—physical, economic, environmental, and public health. We suggest an international action and global cooperation to adopt similar frameworks and practices for the evaluation and remediation of brownfield sites. Similar environmental pollution profiles and associated hazards and health risks govern the environmental fate of pollutants and their intrinsic toxicity, regardless of country of origin. Further, we suggest an international training and mentoring program to educate the next generation of scientists, scholars, and pracVacant and Deteriorated Multiunit Residential Building in Gary, Indiana FIGURE 16 Calumet Industrial Canal in East Chicago, Indiana FIGURE 15 Historic Sharecropper Home Being Rehabilitated by Owner Robert Robinson in North Lilbourn, Missouri Note. Robert Robinson died in 2020 due to COVID-19. FIGURE 18 Vacant Dry Cleaning Facility (Left) and Vacant Tire Facility (Right) in Gary, Indiana FIGURE 17