Poison Paradise!

All the toxic sites in two of Brooklyn’s most expensive neighborhoods, mapped

City Terrain East Environment News
Potentially polluted sites in the neighborhood. (Courtesy NAG)
Potentially polluted sites in the neighborhood. (Courtesy NAG)

On a Jane’s Walk tour of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint industrial waterfront last year, our guide gestured to the luxury-high rises that have sprouted from former industrial areas along Kent Avenue in recent years. “See those buildings? See all the strollers? EVERY SINGLE ONE of their kids is exposed to TOXIC POISON.”

Though the North Brooklyn neighborhoods are now known for servicing the lifestyle needs of bourgeois bohemians, the cold-press juice shops and midi-ring purveyors are, a new map confirms, laid on a foundation of seriously toxic earth.

The key shows which sights may be contaminated. (Courtesy NAG)

The key shows which sights may be contaminated. (Map via NAG edited to display key)

Yesterday Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) launched their ToxiCity Map, an interactive tool that shows how environmental risks correlate with the neighborhoods’ population density, average income, and health outcomes. NAG advocates for policies that promote “healthy mixed-use communities,” works with Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents to access the waterfront, and partners with citizens and businesses to reduce area environmental threats. The map was created with the help of a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation grant in partnership with Pratt Institute’s Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative (SAVI).

The ToxiCity Map lets users pinpoint environmental hazards and gives an idea of how specific hazards could impact a given neighborhood zip code. Waste transfer stations, scrap metal and recycling sorting facilities, for example, are all sites which divert materials from the waste stream but are often surrounded by idling materials delivery trucks that degrade air quality. The location of these facilities can be overlaid onto district asthma rates: The map suggests that the number of waste transfer stations is positively correlated with higher rates of asthma.

(Courtesy NAG)

Areas with the highest asthma rates (dark purple) also have the most waste transfer stations. (Courtesy NAG)

On the toxic waste side, the map features fine-grained explanations of the difference between, say, highly regulated sites versus “E” designated sites, or spills versus brownfields versus Superfund sites.

Handily, the map links to the group’s industrial history walking tour, the same one this reporter took last year.

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