Though Brooklyn is now regarded among the hippest of New York City neighborhoods, the northern parts of the quickly-gentrifying district, namely Greenpoint and Williamsburg, were home to a plethora of power plants, oil refineries, plastic and concrete factories before becoming millennial magnets. While it’s well known that these energy-consuming and waste-producing industries, what is less clear to residents of northern Brooklyn are the lasting environmental effects, and consequent health and safety risks lingering in their neighborhoods. Developed by Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) is the new ToxiCity Map – an interactive digital map that charts North Brooklyn’s polluted sites, waste facilities, and areas susceptible to flooding, in a bid to raise awareness about environmental and public health issues that real estate agents prefer to keep hidden.
“The NAG Greenpoint-Williamsburg ToxiCity Map is an interactive map of toxic “hot spots” in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Data used to compile this map came from city, state and federal sources, guided by on-the-ground knowledge from local activists,” reads the initiative’s description. With various visual layers, users can click to discover neighborhood trends such as population density, asthma hospital visits and socioeconomic data. They can even see specific sites which have been catalysts of toxicity such as the former NuHart Plastics factory and the Exxon oil spill.
According to the project, “NAG hopes that this project will help the community better understand the environmental concerns in the area they live in and ultimately to improve the health and well-being of the community by motivating and empowering community members to be more engaged in their local governing and policy-making process.” Speaking to DNAinfo.com, Allison Currier, an environmental organizer at NAG, explains that ToxiCity Map has been created because “people need to understand where they live and how to protect themselves… The real estate market and the real estate developers, they’re not going to tell people, ‘Oh you’re living on a toxic site. They’re not going to tell people about that because they want people to buy the real estate.”