Residential redevelopment of brownfields: Is human health being protected?
This research explored how protection of health is being addressed at brownfields that are being redeveloped for residential uses. An inter-disciplinary literature review informed the research approaches that included: a context analysis of U.S. newspaper stories; a survey of brownfields practitioners on assessing and managing risks; and, case studies in the cities of Elizabeth, NJ, Emeryville, CA, and Trenton, NJ. While newspaper stories about brownfields and housing and health were rare they were mostly reassuring, setting a favorable context. Housing on brownfields has evolved into a viable land use strategy, the survey revealed that nearly 60% of respondents had residential projects in their brownfields portfolio - mixed use predominated. Most respondents favored the use of regulatory cleanup standards and site specific risk management plans to assess risks (73% ranked these first or second) and most favored partial removal with institutional control or cleanup to residential standards or background for remediation (55% ranked these first or second). Half of the respondents indicated that stakeholders were involved in setting risk targets while only 25% of the respondents could be classified as having a proactive disclosure program (such as pre-sale/lease disclosures, advisory committees, etc.). The case studies demonstrated that the survey favored practices were being used to effectively assess and manage risks; incremental risk targets ranged from 1/1,000,000 to 1/100,000 or a Hazard Index of l. The research also revealed the emergence of a ‘hybrid’ risk management framework—a continuum from qualitative hazard assessments/management to more quantitative analysis of hazards and exposure pathways to achieve the desired risk reduction goal. However, in the absence of contaminant removal to background or residential standards, the long-term sustainability of the protective measures is dependent on institutional controls and public disclosure—areas of uncertainty. This research suggests that housing specific policies be developed that incorporate redundant disclosure, monitoring, and notification measures. Policy implications include: federal—examining state programs; states—setting minimum standards for stakeholder involvement and disclosure requirements; local—translating practices into written form and developing notification redundancies for residents and workers; standards organizations—modifying building codes for urban infill construction and developing life-cycle costing for institutional controls.
0768: Environmental science