Brownfields and Land Reuse

ATSDR Brownfield/Land Reuse Health Initiative
Georgia Brownfields Act
DPH Brownfields to Healthfields Initiative
EPA Brownfields Program

Brownfields and land reuse sites are abandoned, idle, or underused industrial and commercial properties where redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived environmental contamination. These sites damage communities: they may pose toxic chemical exposure risks, lower property values, and affect the psychological wellbeing of nearby residents. Brownfields and land reuse sites come in many forms, from corner gas stations to sprawling industrial facilities. Some have extensive contamination requiring significant resources for cleanup; others may be minimally impacted. Regardless of the extent of contamination, uncertainty regarding financial and legal liabilities can affect the market for redeveloping brownfields and land reuse sites. Once these barriers are removed, sites can be redeveloped into thriving businesses or residential properties.

What is the difference between a brownfield and a land reuse site?

The owner of a brownfield has applied for and received liability protection and other incentives designed to improve demand for these properties to encourage redevelopment. Land reuse sites have not received these protections and incentives for redevelopment. Not all abandoned sites are eligible for, or need, brownfield designation.

While brownfields and land reuse sites are artifacts of our past that hold promise for the future, they can also be a sources of hazardous industrial chemicals released into soil, groundwater, and building materials and machinery. Almost every community in Georgia has brownfields and land reuse sites. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) aims to support the environmentally safe reclamation of brownfields and land reuse sites while ensuring that public health is protected and community concerns related to redevelopment are addressed, from planning through construction. Neighborhoods that are clean and safe will have better quality of life, including better jobs, public safety, health, and education. Those communities with vacant lots, illegal dumping, and abandoned buildings will have higher rates of crime and poverty, lower income and education levels, and more health problems.

DPH works with community leaders, residents, the business sector, and other agencies to conduct the following activities:

  • promote a well-rounded approach to redevelopment
  • include health as an important part of redevelopment
  • grow community resources to promote health
  • measure changes in community health
  • encourage early community involvement in decision making
  • restore and revitalize communities in a way that is fair to all community groups
  • promote relationships among, agencies, partners, and communities
  • improve ways to talk about health and environmental risks