Many areas across the country that were once used for industrial and commercial purposes have been abandoned—some are contaminated. Because lenders, investors, and developers fear that involvement with these sites may make them liable for cleaning up contamination they did not create, they are more attracted to developing sites in pristine areas, called "greenfields." The result can be blighted areas rife with abandoned industrial facilities that create safety and health risks for residents, drive up unemployment, and foster a sense of hopelessness. These areas are called "brownfields."
Brownfields are defined as real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.