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Region 1: EPA New England

Questions About Your Community: Urban

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In urban areas throughout New England, residents are exposed to a multitude of environmental and public health hazards including lead poisoning, indoor air quality and asthma, ambient air quality, contaminated urban rivers and wetlands, urban vacant lots, and lack of open and green space. Cumulatively, the effects of these hazards on urban residents and high risk populations such as children and the elderly are compounded by issues including environmental injustice, economic development, and social ills. This results in disproportionate risks to residents and stress on the quality of the air, water, and land in urban neighborhoods. The Urban Environmental Program (UEP) is a pilot program launched in 1995 in EPA New England to address the range of environment and public health problems facing urban residents in the targeted urban cities of Boston, MA; Providence, RI; and Hartford, CT.

The UEP facilitates community based environmental protection by listening to community needs and concerns, identifying projects, and providing resources to implement projects that make measurable improvements in public health and the quality of the urban environment. The UEP has three core objectives:

Restore and revitalize the environment and improve public health of urban neighborhoods in target cities;

Build local capacity to assess, address, and resolve environment and public health problems; and

Promote sustainable economic development that does not compromise environmental quality and public health in target cities.

The following issues are specifically targeted in urban areas as the most critical to impacting the quality of life for urban residents:

Even though the UEI targeted three specific urban cities through its pilot phase, there are other urban areas throughout New England that are equally important. If you have questions about any of the following issues and how they relate to your urban neighborhood, please contact the organizations listed below for more details and information.

Lead Poisoning
Residents living in urban areas in New England have a greater risk of having lead poisoning due to the age and quality of housing. If you have any questions or would like more information about lead poisoining in your urban community, please click here

Indoor Air Quality & Asthma
Asthma and indoor air quality rates in urban areas in New England are generally higher than in suburban or rural communities and are a critical public health issue for urban residents. If you have any questions or would like more information about indoor air quality and asthma in your urban community, please click on one of the following issues listed below:

Ambient Air Quality
Residents in urban areas in New England suffer from disproportionate levels of ambient air contamination due to high population density, high vehicle traffic, and industrial emissions. If you have any questions or would like more information about ambient air quality in your urban community, please click on one of the following issues listed below:

Urban Rivers & Wetlands
Rivers and wetlands in urban areas in New England are more likely to be exposed to contamination from industry and bacteria contamination from combined sewer overflows. If you have any questions or would like more information about urban rivers and wetlands in your urban community, please click on one of the following issues listed below:

Urban Vacant Lots
An urban vacant lot is a neglected parcel of property that has no buildings on it. In many cases, houses were on these lots, but as they fell into disrepair they were burned or demolished. Urban vacant lots pose considerable public health threats to urban residents from illegal dumping of waste, rats, and contamination from lead, arsenic, and mercury. Vacant lots are a very difficult issue to address in a city because there are often tax liens on abandoned properties, with considerable fines and often absentee owners. Vacant lots are normally addressed by the local government in the city that is impacted by the problem. If you have any questions or would like more information about vacant lots in your urban community, please contact your local Mayor's Office or city Redevelopment Agency for more information.

Open & Green Space
Lack of community and public access to safe open and green space is a critical area of concern for urban residents in New England. If you have any questions or would like more information about open and green space in your community, please click on one of the following issues listed below:

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