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Brownfield Initiative
The term "brownfield" is used to describe properties with contamination concerns that are idled, underused, or abandoned. Common examples in Oregon include former gas stations, auto repair shops, dry cleaners, landfills, and mill sites. Brownfield properties are located throughout Oregon.
This initiative builds Oregon's capacity to integrate health considerations into brownfield and land reuse planning. We lead and support actions that engage local residents, develop local leadership, foster cross sector collaborations, provide health education and recommendations that maximize the health benefits of redevelopment and land reuse.  

Brownfields and Public Health Request for Proposals

The OHA-Brownfield Initiative is looking to provide funding and support to build local public health capacity in brownfield related work. Any Oregon local health department or tribal public health authority is eligible to apply for funding. No prior brownfield experience is necessary. Interested applicants are required to participate in a phone call scheduled by emailing prior to submitting an application.
Proposals are due by 5:00 PM on December 5, 2014. Please view the RFP instructions and template for information about how to apply.
In January 2015, the OHA-PHD will announce one $10,000 award. The project and funding period is planned for January 15, 2015 through September 29, 2015.  

OHA-PHD Brownfield Initiative Webinar

This webinar provides information about public health opportunities in brownfield redevelopment and land reuse. The webinar features speakers from Business Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Portland based non-profit Verde. Public health involvement in brownfield redevelopment and land reuse projects provides an avenue for integrating health considerations into planning, transportation, land use, development​, housing, climate justice, food security, and many other aspects of our social and built environments.

Running time: 1 hour, 3 minutes. Windows media player is required to view this webinar.

Healthy Gardening Fact Sheet

A big thank you to all of the gardeners, urban farmers, and garden supporting organizations who provided comments in response to our request for review. We've incorporated your feedback and are pleased to announce the Healthy Gardening Fact Sheet, also available inSpanish. This fact sheet provides basic advice for growing food in areas where there may be concerns about environmental contamination. Learn how you can enjoy the health benefits of gardening while avoiding common contaminants found in soil.

Public Health's Role in Brownfields

A community's social, economic, and environmental conditions contribute a great deal to health. While brownfield efforts are largely driven by economic and environmental considerations, there is a strong need for public health involvement. Public health professionals with expertise in toxicology, epidemiology, health data for decision makers, GIS mapping, education, community engagement, and relationship building provide a new, unique, and valued perspective in brownfield efforts. Below are a few examples of how public health involvement can add value to brownfield efforts.
  • Engaging underrepresented populations in brownfield efforts through culturally competent approaches.
  • Providing expertise, tools, resources and partnership to promote health and the success of the project.
  • Integrating equity through the inclusion of social justice and the social determinants of health, into brownfield planning, environmental assessment and site use after redevelopment.
  • Contributing to risk assessments by providing health education as part of environmental assessment activities at specific sites.
  • Characterizing and addressing health risks and health-related community concerns through the assessment and redevelopment process.
  • Participating on advisory committees to inform the strategy and prioritization of site specific, area-wide, inventory, or comprehensive brownfield or land-use planning.

Support to Local Brownfield Projects

OHA receives funding from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to carry out brownfield related work through two federal grants. The efforts below demonstrate how state and local public health can support communities, nonprofits, community organizations, and other sectors of state and local government to create healthier environments.
Projects funded by OHA-Brownfield Initiative and carried out by local health departments
Coos County Public Health and Brownfields 2014 Project Report 
Washington County Public Health and Brownfields 2014 Project Report


Projects carried out by the OHA-Brownfield Initiative
Cully Park
Local residents and community serving organizations involved with the Let Us Build Cully Park Coalition! worked with the Department of Environmental Quality and the OHA-Brownfield Initiative to assess the environmental and human health risks present at a former landfill located in the Cully neighborhood of northeast Portland. The Cully Park: Improving health through community partnerships summary provides details for the education-based community engagement process that ensured transparency in a traditionally government led environmental site assessment process. Nationwide, there are many examples of parks built over former landfills. The Cully Park risk assessment process gave the green light for park development. The OHA-Environmental Health Assessment Program completed the Health Consultation report. A summary of the findings is available in English, Spanish, and Somali.
The OHA-Brownfield Initiative provided additional support through assisting with developing strategies for tracking progress on community identified health interests for the park. The Cully Park Community Health Indicators Report details the partnerships and processes from this effort. The first phase of park development includes a community garden (video), a playground (video), a tribal gathering garden (video), a basketball court, a youth soccer field, a picnic area, an off-leash dog area and walking fitness trails. Parking and pedestrian access improvement efforts are also underway.


Linnton Action Model Project 

Federal, state and local government, private industry, community-serving organizations and community residents joined together to pilot the ATSDR Action Model in the Linnton neighborhood located within the industrial sanctuary of northwest Portland. The pilot was an opportunity for government, industry and local residents to explore concerns about environmental conditions and promote health through neighborhood-level changes in the built environment. The residential area of Linnton sits on a hillside, relatively isolated from the rest of Portland along U.S. Highway 30, overlooking and in close proximity to numerous industrial sites, and the Willamette River Portland Harbor Superfund site. A few successes from this effort are noted below.

  • The ATSDR Action Model provided the platform for one of the most impactful outcomes from this effort -- the focus on repairing  relationships and trust between neighborhood residents and the government agencies that serve them. 
  • The Linnton Health Fair event connected Linnton residents to health care service providers, free or reduced cost blood-lead level testing, and environmental, health and municipal organizations and agencies that serve the community. 
  • The Vision to Action effort provided a hands-on way for Linnton residents to come together and imagine a healthier community. With assistance from Jim Waddell, Linnton residents created a series of drawings that depict their vision of possibilities for redevelopment including the former mill sitepromoting recreation along the river, connecting the community through infrastructure improvements that promote physical activity, and creating safe spaces for community gatherings.
  • The Linnton Photovoice project engaged Linnton neighborhood residents to share perspectives about brownfield redevelopment and health through photography. The resulting collection travels the city as an exhibit to raise awareness of how health can be promoted through brownfield redevelopment.

Brownfield Resources