The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) first highlighted the Brownfields/Land Reuse Site Tool (Site Tool) in 2012 (Perlman, Berman, & Lemly Bing, 2012). The Site Tool helps environmental health professionals rapidly inventory and characterize land reuse sites with a public health lens. Inventorying of land reuse sites like brownfields is a common practice. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) requires a reporting inventory that will sync with its Assessment, Cleanup, and Redevelopment Exchange System (U.S. EPA, 2018). This inventory database, however, was developed based on environmental regulation for redevelopment partners and might focus less on public health and chemical and physical exposure risks. This column demonstrates the utility of the Site Tool in addressing public health needs around redevelopment.
Updates to the Site Tool
ATSDR updated the Site Tool to include a comparison value viewer. The comparison value viewer allows environmental health professionals to screen available environmental data to determine if there are cancer or noncancer exposures that need further assessment. Comparison values (CVs) are concentrations of a substance in air, water, or soil that are unlikely to cause harmful health effects at levels at or below the CV in exposed people. If we find substances in amounts greater than their CVs, we can select them for further evaluation in the public health assessment process. Other federal and state agencies have developed similar types of health-based guidelines for concentrations of substances in water, soil, air, and food, such as U.S. EPA's residual contaminant levels (RCLs) for soil (U.S. EPA Region 4, 2014). In the absence of a CV, we can use these health-based guidelines for a particular environmental media.
The Site Tool can be used on any type of potentially contaminated site including brownfields, landfills, or Superfund sites, and as such, we changed its name to the ATSDR Land Reuse Site Screening Tool (Site Tool). Currently, the Site Tool has been downloaded approximately 2,500 times and is used throughout the U.S. and in four other countries.
Site Tool Cohorts: Example Uses
In 2018, we created four examples from Site Tool users to offer guidance to others who could benefit from using the Site Tool to create land reuse site inventories. Our Site Tool cohorts featured in this column are using the Site Tool in creative ways. Each cohort has provided a brief overview of their use of the Site Tool. For reader interest, we have also created more detailed fact sheets about their Site Tool projects at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/ brownfields/site_inventory.html.
Baker City, Oregon: High School Students Create a Brownfields Inventory and Engage in Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup
In a small, rural town in eastern Oregon, high school students are using the Site Tool to collect data on brownfields in their community. The data quality was part...