Brownfields were not recognized as sites of concern by the Environmental Protection Agency until the mid-90s. Today, there are approximately half a million brownfields in the United States alone on record, with many others that have yet to be reported. To be classified as such, an area of land or property confirms the presences of hazardous substances, pollutants, and/or other contaminants, causing the area to be unusable for commercial, agricultural, or residential purposes.
The cost of cleanup for brownfields is often very high or uncertain, so many of these sites tend to sit idle and untouched for extended periods of time. Remediation is the key to creating jobs, expanding the tax base, and stimulating local economies. With the cost of cleanup being greater than the cost of the land after remediation, communities and the EPA must use federal funding and grants to help push the process along.