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The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) have a cooperative agreement for conducting assessments and consultations regarding potential health hazards at toxic chemical contamination sites within the State of Michigan. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Superfund Section, has asked the MDCH to evaluate any health risks associated with several properties included in the Brownfield Projects in Detroit and other cities in Michigan.

A Brownfield parcel is an abandoned property, formerly used for industrial or commercial purposes, that some industrial or commercial entity has expressed an interest in acquiring for future use. The local governmental entities have asked the MDEQ to conduct environmental assessments of the Brownfield properties in their jurisdiction. The MDEQ has consulted with the MDCH concerning public health aspects of these assessments.

The MDCH health consultation for a Brownfield property includes consideration of the following fundamental questions:

  • Are there any imminent or urgent threats to public health associated with the property?
  • Does the proposed future use of the property pose any long-term public health hazard?
  • What specific actions, if any, are necessary to make the property safe for future use?
  • Is there enough information available to answer these questions, and if not, what additional information is needed?


The Packard Plant property is a complex of buildings in Detroit, Michigan, that were used from 1907 to 1956 for automobile and truck manufacturing. Since 1960, the property has been used as an industrial park. It has been subdivided and is now leased to a variety of small businesses. Large sections of the complex are vacant. Title to most of the contiguous the property has reverted to the State in lieu of unpaid taxes.

Many windows in the complex are broken. There are large piles of tires, baled plastic, and bird droppings in some areas of the complex. Paint chips collected within the complex during a site inspection visit in July 1997 contain lead. Insulation found in the buildings contains asbestos.

The buildings on the complex should be cleaned and repaired or demolished, with all the trash properly disposed of, before they are used for any future use. The rehabilitation or demolition should use appropriate methods to encapsulate or remove the lead-containing paint and asbestos to minimize exposure of workers, neighboring residents, and those using the property in the future.


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has asked the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) to evaluate the health risks associated with the Packard Plant property as part of the Detroit Brownfields Project.

The Packard Plant property is located at the intersection of East Grand Boulevard and Concord Avenue in Detroit, Michigan (Figure 1). The property consists of 6 buildings on both sides of East Grand Boulevard, extending from Interstate 94 to Frederick Avenue between Concord Avenue and a Conrail railroad right-of-way. The Packard Motor Car Company built the complex in 1907 for automobile and truck manufacture. The Packard Motor Car Company went out of business in 1956. In 1960, the complex was converted to an industrial park, the buildings subdivided and leased to many smaller operations, including automotive repair, general storage, and a "splatball" mock combat game. Large sections of the property are vacant. Title to the property has reverted to the State of Michigan in lieu of unpaid taxes (1).

From July 29 to July 30, 1997, the MDEQ conducted field work for a Brownfields Redevelopment Assessment (BFRA) of the Packard Plant property. On July 29, 1997, MDCH staff visited the property with the MDEQ staff.

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