|Oneida County, located in the heart of New York State, encompasses a total of 1,257.11 square miles and a population of 235,469. Significant populatin decreases over the last forty years have altered the composition of our residents as demonstrated by an increasing aged population and increases in minority groups. Oneida County has one of the highest percentages of families below the poverty level in the state, with approximately 25% of the children under the age of 5 living in poverty. The environmental issues addressed by this project are the legacy of a long-term decrease in population, urban and economic decay, migration of youth and industry away from the region, industrial, economic, agricultural, governmental, and recreational development activities, environmental degradation, and variations in land-use policy. The convergence of these conditions occurs most noticeably in the inner city areas where the greatest concentrations of the most vulnerable people in Oneida County live. The resulting conditions foster an increase in environmental health hazards, thereby leading to an unacceptable risk for such health conditions as cancers, asthma and childhood lead poisoning. With these constant changes, community members have become increasingly more concerned about identifying the environmental factors that may affect their health. The community's concerns were reflected in the February 2005, Oneida Health Assessment Report where residents identified environmental health as a foremost concern.|
For the past 225 years, Oneida County has housed thousands of large and small industries ranging from textile mills, tanneries, and metals industry, to present day industries focused on light electronic and machine industries involving photo chemicals and metal finishing. Today pollutants in our air, soil, water, and indoor environments challenge our county's environmental health. Increased vehicular traffic and industrial emissions contribute to ever-increasing Particulate Matter (PM2.5) levels. The prevalence of respiratory disease, specifically pediatric asthma and lung cancer is on the rise in the County. Approximately 150 Tier II reporting facilities in Oneida County house a broad battery of hazardous agents including solvents, VOCs, pesticides, and heavy metals. Numerous other industries store, utilize and/or generate hazardous materials. Twenty-seven inactive waste disposal sites are known to exist throughout the county with identified contaminants including heavy metals, waste solvents, PCBs, PAHs and other hazardous chemicals. Forty-one percent of these sites lack sufficient data as to whether or not they pose a significant health and/or environmental threat. Numerous illegal dumpsites exist in Onieda County, many of which may contain hazardous wastes threaten our soils and water sources. The more densely populate urban centers (Rome and Utica) have designated Brownfield sites.