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Land Reuse Site Screening Tool Cohorts: Creating Land Reuse Site Inventories.


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 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 of an overall learning objective for the students. Initiated by the school's receipt of a donated property that was actually a brownfields, Baker School District's Baker Technical Institute (BTI) hosts the only high school-run brownfields program in the country. Students raised brownfields awareness and used the Site Tool to help the city write a U.S. EPA community-wide assessment grant.

Using the Site Tool, students mapped dozens of potential brownfields in their community, collated data on contaminants of concern, and presented their findings to the city council. Their presentation was key in convincing the city to support and submit a U.S. EPA community-wide assessment grant--with the help of the BTI brownfields class--focused on assessing 25 brownfields sites in 30 blocks (Figure 1). These assessments will help the city understand the depth and breadth of the contamination in their business corridors and will provide property owners with a valuable step in making their properties business ready.

Chicago, Illinois: Master of Science Project to Inventory Land Reuse Sites for Energy Innovation Potential

Erica Arias, Master of Science in Sustainable Management candidate, identified land reuse sites throughout Chicago's south side, including south and west Cook County. Arias researched dozens of sites and used the Site Tool to create an inventory to meet the request of a local Chicago community leader, Bruce Montgomery, executive director of Urban Energy Innovation, to identify land reuse sites greater than 10 acres that could be reused for energy innovation projects (i.e., solar farms) as economic drivers in distressed communities. Arias provided an inventory of 10 sites, including an old hospital, landfill, and several industrial sites to Montgomery, who investigated reusing these sites for energy innovation projects. This project was presented to the community. As a result, local development organizations are focusing on the landfill as a redevelopment opportunity.

Jacksonville, Florida: Florida Department of Health in Duval County Inventory of Land Reuse Sites in Health Zone 1

Grazyna Pawlowicz inventoried 138 known land reuse sites in Duval County, of which 101 (76%) are located within Health Zone 1, an area with elevated adverse health outcome rates and more distressed properties and vacant lots than the county's other five health zones (Florida Department of Health in Duval County, 2016). Pawlowicz inventoried 33 Superfund sites, 2 hazardous waste sites, 58 waste cleanup sites, 2 dump sites, and 10 dry cleaner sites and detailed the chemical contaminants of concern. Pawlowicz also mapped the sites using GIS and overlaid the sites with other local environmental and community data to provide stakeholders and potential developers with a clearer understanding of environmental conditions, as well as help to identify potential priority issues to address (Figure 2). While this project is still in progress, planning for a community citizen science project to engage the public in remediation plans at one Superfund site is underway.

West Bend, Wisconsin: Graduate Student Creates a Site Inventory to Characterize Brownfields Sites in Terms of Contaminant Exposures and Site Risks

For her Master of Public Health requirements, Dr. Elizabeth Yogerst is connecting brown-fields sites and potential health outcomes by applying the Site Tool to existing data and following Washington County's future activity. Yogerst researched 24 sites and profiled 5 representative sites for this column to emphasize which contaminant levels exceed RCL soil standards in Wisconsin for metals, volatile organic compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Table 1). Yogerst obtained contaminant data from reports from the licensed environmental professional who completed the sampling following U.S. EPA and/or state methods (U.S. EPA Region 4, 2014).


The Site Tool's dual capacity of a searchable, customizable inventory and the ability to quickly review sampling data enhanced the capabilities of the cohort communities to ensure public health has a seat at the redevelopment decision table. In addition, the cohorts were able to avoid or reduce consultant costs typically levied for site inventory creations.

We are grateful to our coauthors for sharing their hands-on experiences using the Site Tool. If you would like assistance in creating your own inventory, please contact Gary Perlman at In addition, if you use the Site Tool and want to let us know how you used it, we would be happy to add you to our list of Site Tool users so that we can continue to provide guidance to other communities.

Editor's Note: As part of our continued effort to highlight innovative approaches to improve the health and environment of communities, the Journal is pleased to publish a bimonthly column from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ATSDR serves the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances. The purpose of this column is to inform readers of ATSDR's activities and initiatives to better understand the relationship between exposure to hazardous substances in the environment, its impact on human health, and how to protect public health.

The conclusions of this column are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of ATSDR or CDC.

Corresponding Author: CAPT Gary D. Perlman, Region 1 (New England), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 1010, Mail Code ATSDR 10-1, Boston, MA 02109-3921.



Florida Department of Health in Duval County. (2016). Health zone 1 needs assessment, Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville, FL: Author.

Perlman, G.D., Berman, L., & Lemly Bing, K.L. (2012). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry brownfields/landreuse site tool. Journal of Environmental Health, 75(5), 30-34.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). Brownfields grantee reporting using the Assessment, Cleanup, and Redevelopment Exchange System (ACRES). Retrieved from https:// grantee-reporting-assessment-cleanup-and- redevelopment-exchange-system-acres

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, Science and Ecosystem Support Division. (2014). Operating procedure: Soil sampling. Retrieved from production/files/2015-06/documents/ Soil-Sampling.pdf

Did You Know?

Beginning October 1, NEHA will introduce a simplified and inclusive membership structure. The new membership categories are Professional, Emerging Professional, Retired Professional, International, and Life. Questions about NEHA's new membership structure can be directed to

Gary D. Perlman, MPH, RS, DAAS Laurel Berman, MS, PhD Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Megan Alameda, MS Baker Technical Institute

Erika Arias DePaul University

Grazyna Pawlowicz, MS Florida Department of Health in Duval County

Elizabeth Yogerst, MPH, DVM Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Caption: FIGURE 1 Examples of Brownfields Mapped in Baker City, Oregon

Caption: FIGURE 2 Land Reuse Sites in Health Zone 1

Maximum Soil Concentrations and Residual Contaminant Levels (RCLs)
of Select Compounds From Five Brownfields/Land Reuse Sites,
Washington County, Wisconsin

Contaminant                     Unit         Soil Direct Contact

                                              Non-      Industrial

  Arsenic                       mg/kg        0.613        2.390
  Barium                        mg/kg        15,300      100,000
  Cadmium                       mg/kg          70          798
  Chromium                      mg/kg         n/v          n/v
  Lead                          mg/kg         400          800
  Mercury                       mg/kg         3.13         3.13
  Selenium                      mg/kg         391         5,110
  Silver                        mg/kg         391         5,110
Volatile organic compounds (chlorinated)
  1,1,1-trichloroethane      [micro]g/kg      n/r          640
  Trichloroethylene          [micro]g/kg      n/r          8.41
  cis-1,1-dichloroethene     [micro]g/kg      n/r         2,340
  trans-1,1-dichloroethene   [micro]g/kg      n/r         1,850
Volatile organic compounds (nonchlorinated)
  Benzene                    [micro]g/kg     1,490        7,410
  Ethylbenzene               [micro]g/kg     7,470        3,700
  Toluene                    [micro]g/kg    818,000      818,000
  Xylene (total)             [micro]g/kg    260,000      260,000
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  Benzo[a]anthracene         [micro]g/kg      147         2,100
  Benzo[a]pyrene             [micro]g/kg      14.8        211.0
  Benzo[b]fluoranthene       [micro]g/kg      148         2,110
  Chrysene                   [micro]g/kg     1,480        21,100
  Dibenz(a,h)anthracene      [micro]g/kg      14.8        211.0
  Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene     [micro]g/kg      148         2,110

Contaminant                   Brownfields/Land Reuse Site
                                (Slated Reuse Category)

                              Petroleum       Downtown
                             Distributor      Multi-Use
                             (Commercial,   (Residential,
                             Industrial)     Commercial)
  Arsenic                        9.3#           15.0#
  Barium                         190             110
  Cadmium                        n/v            0.96
  Chromium                      100.0            9.1
  Lead                           470            580#
  Mercury                       0.081           0.110
  Selenium                       1.70           0.76
  Silver                         1.50           0.18
Volatile organic compounds (chlorinated)
  1,1,1-trichloroethane          n/v             n/v
  Trichloroethylene              n/v             n/v
  cis-1,1-dichloroethene         n/v             n/v
  trans-1,1-dichloroethene       n/v             n/v
Volatile organic compounds (nonchlorinated)
  Benzene                        170             n/v
  Ethylbenzene                   980             n/v
  Toluene                       1,500            n/v
  Xylene (total)                3,100            n/v
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  Benzo[a]anthracene            1,300          1,600#
  Benzo[a]pyrene                1,200#         2,500#
  Benzo[b]fluoranthene          2,700#         3,700#
  Chrysene                      2,200          3,000#
  Dibenz(a,h)anthracene          340#           290#
  Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene         710            910#

Contaminant                   Brownfields/Land Reuse Site
                                (Slated Reuse Category)

                             Machine Shop   Metal Plating
                             (Industrial)     (Unknown)

  Arsenic                        n/v            10.8#
  Barium                         114             191
  Cadmium                        n/v            0.72
  Chromium                       31.6           33.8
  Lead                            11             234
  Mercury                       0.024           0.075
  Selenium                       n/v            0.96
  Silver                         n/v            0.96
Volatile organic compounds (chlorinated)
  1,1,1-trichloroethane         0.129            n/v
  Trichloroethylene             19.70#           n/v
  cis-1,1-dichloroethene         3.54            n/v
  trans-1,1-dichloroethene      0.0131           n/v
Volatile organic compounds (nonchlorinated)
  Benzene                        n/v             n/v
  Ethylbenzene                   n/v           0.0149
  Toluene                        n/v           0.0599
  Xylene (total)                 n/v           0.1024
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  Benzo[a]anthracene             n/v           1,660#
  Benzo[a]pyrene                 n/v           1,500#
  Benzo[b]fluoranthene           n/v           3,750#
  Chrysene                       n/v           2,630#
  Dibenz(a,h)anthracene          n/v            264#
  Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene         n/v           1,040#

Contaminant                  Brownfields/Land Reuse Site
                             (Slated Reuse Category)

                               Rail Yard

  Arsenic                         n/v
  Barium                          114
  Cadmium                         n/v
  Chromium                       31.6
  Lead                            11
  Mercury                        0.017
  Selenium                        n/v
  Silver                          n/v
Volatile organic compounds (chlorinated)
  1,1,1-trichloroethane           n/v
  Trichloroethylene             7,600#
  cis-1,1-dichloroethene        17,000#
  trans-1,1-dichloroethene      4.1000
Volatile organic compounds (nonchlorinated)
  Benzene                       12,000#
  Ethylbenzene                  23,000#
  Toluene                         670
  Xylene (total)                24,000
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  Benzo[a]anthracene              n/v
  Benzo[a]pyrene                  n/v
  Benzo[b]fluoranthene            n/v
  Chrysene                        n/v
  Dibenz(a,h)anthracene           n/v
  Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene          n/v

Note. Numbers in bold indicate concentrations above the RCL. RCLs
are considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be
protective for humans (including sensitive groups) over a lifetime.
Contaminant values are most often obtained from licensed
environmental site professionals.

n/r = not reported; n/v = no value.

Note: Concentrations above the RCL were indicated with #.
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Title Annotation:DIRECT FROM ATSDR
Author:Perlman, Gary D.; Berman, Laurel; Alameda, Megan; Arias, Erika; Pawlowicz, Grazyna; Yogerst, Elizabe
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2018
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