Redeveloping Brownfield and Land Reuse Sites to Benefit Communities

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
National Brownfields/Land Reuse Health Initiative
ATSDR Is Transforming Communities Across the Nation

Brownfields and land reuse sites are areas that may be contaminated with chemicals from past or current uses. The National Brownfields/Land Reuse Health Initiative works with cities, towns, and neighborhoods to help redevelop these sites. We turn them into spaces such as schools, parks, and gardens, protecting residents from dangerous substances and improving public health.

vector graphics of vacant lots and houses, old gas stations, abandoned factories and polluted waterfronts
Vacant lots and houses
Old gas stations
Abandoned factories
Polluted waterfronts
three arrows
vector graphic of new buildings
New buildings

Creating healthy and safe community spaces

vector graphic of gardens
Community gardens

Making it easier to get healthy foods

vector graphic of parks and trails for walking and biking
Parks and trails for walking and biking

Increasing physical activity and safety

Brownfields Can Harm Your Health

There are over 500,000 brownfields and land reuse sites in the U.S. These sites range in size from less than one acre to thousands of acres. Living near them can lead to health problems.

vector graphic of chemical spill
Environmental damage
vector graphic of a broken down house
Poor housing quality
vector graphic of people in poor air quality
Poor air quality
vector graphic of a chain link fence with a keep out sign
Lack of options for physical activity
vector graphic of a convenience store
Limited access to healthy foods
vector graphic showing a person's lung
Higher risk of disease (like cancer and lung disease) and earlier death
ATSDR Is Helping Communities Rebuild

Our most important job is working directly with community members. We answer questions, provide resources, and stay involved as long as we’re needed.

Brownfields and Reuse Opportunity Working Network volunteers
We form Community Partnerships.

ATSDR and its group of expert volunteers — the Brownfields & Reuse Opportunity Working Network (BROWN) — share knowledge and consult in the field with developers, officials, and others.

Screen shot of ATSDR Action Model Toolkit website.
We create tools and resources.

These materials help people assess the effects of brownfields and land reuse sites, and they allow communities to track their successes during and after redevelopment.

Sawyer Community Alliance receiving grants for improving community health in areas with brownfields and land reuse sites.
We help communities get funding.

ATSDR awards grants for improving community health in areas with brownfields and land reuse sites.

Success Stories
The National Brownfields/Land Reuse Health Initiative has led over 60 projects to improve community health all over the United States. Here are a few examples:
U.S. map showing the locations of the National Brownfields/Land Reuse Health Initiative projects in each state.
Center for children’s art education in Boise, Idaho
Boise, Idaho

Before: Abandoned church formerly used as a meth lab
After: Center for children’s art education

New school and homes in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Kenosha, Wisconsin

Before: Abandoned brass factory
After: New school and homes

Community gardens in Graniteville, South Carolina
Graniteville, South Carolina

Before: Land devastated by a 2005 chlorine spill
After: Community Gardens

Community health clinic in Mulberry, Florida
Mulberry, Florida

Before: Brownfields in a medically underserved area
After: Community health clinic

We’ve also assisted on over 400 other sites — consulting with communities about possible exposures and contamination from brownfields.

Want to make your community healthier and safer by renewing and redeveloping it?

To learn more about the National Brownfields/Land Reuse Health Initiative, visit:
or email us at

Page last reviewed: December 24, 2019