Superfund Site Footprints

Project Description
For decades, both private and public enterprises in America disposed of hazardous waste improperly, contaminating the nation?s soils, water, and air, creating tens of thousands of hazardous sites, and threatening human health and the environment. In response to community outcries for action, Congress passed on December 11, 1980 the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund. CERCLA and the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 place a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries, generating a trust fund of billions of dollars to clean up abandoned and dangerous sites. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation (OSRTI), part of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), manages the Superfund program that addresses both the short and long-term threats from potential releases of hazardous substances. EPA partners with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Research Program (SRP) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to better understand and address the public environmental health issues related to Superfund sites. All of these agencies encourage communities living near sites impacted by hazardous substance to fully participate in decisions made about site management, and recognize the importance of making the science and related information about these sites accessible to these communities.

The Superfund Site Footprints collection of data sets is being made available to assist a wide range of researchers, government regulators, and community stakeholders who are concerned with the assessment and remediation of Superfund sites in the United States and its territories. The data provided here can be used to more precisely visualize the location of the sites in proximity to potentially vulnerable populations and ecosystems. Most of the site locations are displayed as polygon shapefiles and the remaining as points. A number of site attributes are linked to these locations. In addition, it is possible to use these data sets with other data layers in a GIS that integrates the Superfund site attributes with nearby demographic characteristics, environmental features, and critical infrastructures.

So far, these data sets, Version 1 and Version 2 respectively, have been used to undertake an Assessment of Populations in Proximity to Superfund National Priorities List Sites for the year 2000 and to create the NPL Superfund Footprint: Site, Environmental, and Population Characteristics, an online interactive mapping tool. The Assessment was generated in response to a request by the NIEHS to estimate how many people live within four miles of a Superfund site. It uses methodologies and data sets that more accurately than previous analyses determine population totals and demographic breakdowns in proximity to NPL sites. The Mapper is an innovative tool which can enhance the visualization and understanding of the characteristics of vulnerable populations, built and natural features, and environmental exposures near the National Priorities List Superfund sites. Both products were created by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) as part of the Columbia University Superfund Research Program?s Research Translation Core. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) funded the work on the Mapper as a supplemental grant to the Columbia University Superfund Research Program on the Health Effects and Geochemistry of Arsenic and Manganese (NIEHS 3 P42 ES010349-10). The dissemination of the data sets included in this collection is funded by SEDAC.