Community Environment Information

Chicago Community Environment Information

The health and safety of Chicago’s communities, particularly areas with higher health and racial inequities, is our highest priority. The work of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is rooted in Healthy Chicago 2025, a citywide plan to close Chicago’s racial life expectancy gap by addressing the root causes of health. We recognize that health is not just the absence of disease – it is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. And that requires a healthy environment.

We will post information on this webpage to keep residents updated on what’s happening in their community. Scroll to view current permit applications and opportunities for public engagement organized by location.



Resources

Link - CDPH Environmental Complaint Process
Learn about our team and how we’re working to protect the environment and public health.
Link - CDPH Permit Process Guidelines For Consequential Facilities
Click here to learn more about our expanded opportunities for public engagement in the permit process.
Link - CDPH Environmental Complaint Process
Click here to learn more about CDPH environmental inspections and how you can submit an air, water, or land complaint through 3-1-1.
Link - CDPH Environmental Complaint Process
Click here to learn more about the highlights of our work in 2022.
  • For guidance on how to submit an effective public comment, click here.
  • To view the full Permit Process Guidelines for Consequential Facilities, click here.

Public Comment Period Extended Through June 21: Sims Large Recycling Facility Permit

On April 22, 2024, pursuant to the Rules for Large Recycling Facilities, the public comment period for the Sims Metal Management (Sims) large recycling facility permit renewal. As part of the process, CDPH hosted a public meeting on May 15, 2024, to help the City better understand and address community concerns as it completes its review of the draft permit.

Based on feedback received during the public meeting on May 15 and the significant public interest, as well as the goal of providing an opportunity for the residents to review additional materials submitted by Sims, CDPH is extending the public comment period for the large recycling facility permit renewal for an additional 30 days (through June 21). Another community meeting will be scheduled within these 30 days.

All written public comments should be submitted to envcomments@cityofchicago.org by June 21, 2024. Comments received will be made available after the public comment period ends.

Background materials are available below, including the public notice that was shared on April 22 and updated May 3, as well as original and ongoing public comments available here.


Public Meeting Notice 5/3/24: Ogden Keeler Industrial Buildings Demolition

Please join the City of Chicago for a public meeting regarding multiple addresses listed on Ogden Avenue, Kedvale Avenue, and Ogden Avenue. Topics to be covered include safe demolition, oversight, dust control measures, and environmental and health protections, as an environmentally complex demolition.

Join the discussion Monday, May 13, at 7 pm, at Greater St. Paul Ame Church, located at 4236 West Cermak Road, Chicago, IL 60623. Spanish translation will be available.

Learn more about complex demolitions at chicago.gov/complexdemolitions.


Public Comment Period Opens: Sims Large Recycling Facility Permit

ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL 22, 2024

UPDATED TO REFLECT PUBLIC MEETING INFORMATION MAY 3, 2024

On April 4, 2024, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) granted an air pollution control (APC) permit to Sims Metal Management (Sims) for installation of air pollution control devices. The APC permit supports the implementation of Sims’s agreed interim order with the Office of the Illinois Attorney General to install air pollution control devices that significantly reduce particulate matter and other forms of pollution from the facility’s shredder.

Separately, Sims submitted an application for the large facility recycling permit. The original application was held for consideration due to the new and strengthened requirements under the Rules for Large Recycling Facilities, to ensure the safety and health of all Chicagoans, especially nearby residents. As part of these enhanced requirements, Sims has provided supplementary materials.

Currently, Sims is legally operating under its previously-issued operating Class IVB large recycling facility operating permit without these enhanced controls in place. The large recycling facility permit renewal application is now subject to a separate CDPH review process that includes a public comment period and community meeting.

Pursuant to the Rules for Large Recycling Facilities, the submission of a complete application starts a 30-day public comment period, which began April 22, 2024. As part of this process, CDPH is hosting a public meeting, which will help the City better understand and address community concerns as it completes its review of the draft permit. The meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 15, at 6 pm at St. Pius V Church, located at 1919 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608. Spanish translation will be available. The meeting will be available via livestream and recording.

 

All written public comments should be submitted to envcomments@cityofchicago.org by May 22, 2024.


Public Meeting: South Ashland Demolition

Please join the City of Chicago for a public meeting regarding the property at 3809-25 South Ashland Avenue and 3827-39 South Ashland Avenue. Topics to be covered include safe demolition, oversight, dust control measures, and environmental and health protections, as an environmentally complex demolition.

Join the discussion Thursday, March 28, at 6 pm at the McKinley Park Field House, located at 2210 West Pershing Road. Spanish translation will be available. If another language interpretation is needed, please email communityengagement@cityofchicago.org by Friday, March 22.

Learn more about complex demolitions at chicago.gov/complexdemolitions.


US Army Corps of Engineers Community Meeting

CDPH has been made aware of an upcoming community meeting that the US Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) will be hosting regarding the Section 106 process for an application for a permit related to the demolition of the structures at 2900 South Damen Avenue, Chicago (“Damen Silos”). The public meeting is scheduled for February 1, 2024, at 7 pm per the public meeting notice from the Corps. The Corps has requested translation services for those who speak Spanish and Mandarin.

The purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity for members of the public and Section 106 Consulting Parties to provide spoken and/or written comments regarding potential ways to mitigate adverse effects on the historic property. The Corps will not be providing new project-related information but will explain the Section 106 process and the proposed work within the Corps’ jurisdiction.


Heat Watch Chicago Report Launch Event

In July, Chicago joined 17 other communities across the country in building a team of resident scientists to measure heat across the City. Over three shifts (morning, midday, and evening), volunteers traveled routes with heat sensors on their cars to measure temperature, humidity, time, and location—which all impact how intense the heat feels. Now, the results are in, and we will be reporting out the data from the data collected by the community science volunteers and discussing next steps.

Attend our Heat Watch Chicago Report Launch Event with the Heat Watch Chicago team, the Northwestern University Buffett Institute Defusing Disasters Working Group, community partners, and others, on Wednesday, December 13, at 6 pm at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health. Visit chicago.gov/coolchi to learn more and save your spot in-person or virtually.


Update: City of Chicago Statement on Proposed Demolition of the Damen Avenue Silos

The proposed demolition of the Damen Ave Silos will require a United State Army Corps of Engineers permit, including a federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Consequently, the City of Chicago will defer its decision on the demolition application pending the outcome of the federal permitting and NEPA review process and related community engagement, which may involve or raise environmental issues and mitigation measures relevant to the City's review.


Damen Silos Routine Maintenance

The week of September 11, the Heneghan Wrecking company will be doing routine maintenance on the crane that is located on the Damen Silos site. In this process, the crane may be observed as moving, both, vertically and horizontally. Please note that this is a part of the maintenance process, and no active demolition is occurring. Currently, CDPH has not yet approved the company’s final demolition plan and, therefore, the Department of Buildings has not approved the demolition permit. CDPH remains committed to being transparent with you about this process and will continue to bring updates, as they come.


Asbestos Abatement at NRG Fisk Station

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) wanted to make sure you were aware that today, August 16th, on behalf of NRG Fisk Station, Brock Industrial Services will begin Asbestos Abatement work at 1111 W Cermak. This work is necessary to prevent asbestos containing material from deteriorating to a point where it poses a risk to community health. Precautions to ensure that the community is protected during this project include enclosure of the worksite via scaffolding and plastic sheets, continuous wetting of asbestos containing material as it is removed, and loading of asbestos containing material into leak tight bags. IEPA reviewed the workplan, which will be done by IDPH accredited asbestos professionals, and CDPH will have inspectors visit the site frequently to ensure ongoing community health and safety. Work will continue through November 10, 2023.


Public Meeting: Damen Silos

Please join the City of Chicago for a public meeting regarding the Damen Silos. Topics to be covered include safe demolition, oversight, dust control measures, and environmental and health protections, as an environmentally complex demolition that will not be a demolition by implosion.

Join the discussion August 22 at 6 pm at Arturo Velasquez Institute, located at 2800 S. Western, or via livestream. Translation services will be available.

Learn more about complex demolitions.


CDPH Guidance On Heat And Air Quality In Chicago

Summer often comes with hot and humid conditions, and poor air quality in Chicago can be dangerous for some people, including those with lung diseases such as asthma, children and teens, older adults, and people who are routinely active outdoors for several hours a day. Air quality has been negatively impacted in the summer of 2023 due to smoke from Canadian wildfires.

On days with poor air quality, Chicagoans are advised to keep windows and doors closed and turn on their air conditioners if they have one. Seek shelter elsewhere if you do not have an air conditioner and your home is too warm. For Chicagoans without access to properly ventilated and safe indoor conditions, please utilize public libraries, senior centers, Park District facilities, and the Cultural Center, or the six community service centers that operate from 9 am-5 pm:

  • Englewood Center – 1140 W. 79th Street
  • Garfield Center – 10 S. Kedzie Ave. (24 Hours)
  • King Center – 4314 S. Cottage Grove
  • North Area Center – 845 W. Wilson Ave.
  • South Chicago Center – 8650 S. Commercial Ave.
  • Trina Davila Center – 4312 W. North Ave.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications also has information on cooling centers here and guidance on dealing with the heat. To learn more about air quality in our area and monitor for updates from the U.S. EPA, visit www.AirNow.gov.  Residents can also sign up to receive Notify Chicago alerts at NotifyChicago.org or download the OEMC App through the Apple App or Google Play stores for public safety tips and alerts.


City of Chicago Files Appeal of Decision to Vacate Permit Denial for Southside Recycling

On June 30, the City of Chicago filed, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, its appeal of the Department of Administrative Hearing's decision to vacate the Chicago Department of Public Health’s denial of an operating permit for Southside Recycling – the proposed metal shredding plant located on the City’s Southeast Side. Mayor Brandon Johnson issued the following statement on June 1 in response to that initial decision.

“Our decision to appeal is guided in large part by the Health Impact Assessment conducted by CDPH, under the guidance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), that found that certain census block groups in the Southeast Side community rank among the highest in Chicago for vulnerability to air pollution, based on underlying health and social conditions. The HIA also found that community conditions on the Southeast Side have been affected by the presence of past and current industry, and that the proposed Southside Recycling facility would contribute additional negative impacts.”

“These efforts would not be possible without the grassroots organizers and activists who have long fought for environmental justice in our city. Despite this ruling, I remain committed to alleviating the impact of industrial pollution, and my administration will continue working with residents and community organizations to deliver improved health and environmental outcomes for every Chicago resident and neighborhood.”

The City continues to stand firmly behind its permit denial and the comprehensive review that led to it. As this matter remains in active litigation, we will not comment further.


New Opportunities for Chicagoans to Participate in the City's Cumulative Impact Assessment

Chicago residents were invited to participate in new opportunities for Chicago’s Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA)! The CIA is the City’s first initiative to comprehensively examine and assess how combined environmental, health and social stressors affect Chicago residents, and to identify communities that experience the greatest impacts.

The official public comment period for the draft environmental justice action plan closed on July 31, but proposed materials and presentations are available at chicago.gov/cumulativeimpact.


New Environmental Justice Executive Order

In May 2023, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot signed an Executive Order advancing the City’s commitment to environmental justice for all Chicagoans, making consideration of health and other community impacts a priority across departments and in City policies. The Executive Order formalizes and expands upon the City’s and community partners’ efforts to advance environmental justice under Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership. Learn more about the Executive Order.

“Chicago is listening to the long-standing concerns voiced by environmental justice organizations and community members who have described how intensive industrial operations and trucks affect their neighborhoods, health, and quality of life. While there are still years of work ahead, together we have laid the groundwork to remedy the harms caused by pollution and other burdens for generations of residents in environmental justice communities.” - Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot

Keep up to date on the Cumulative Impact Assessment here.


Mat asphalt settlement

CDPH has entered into a settlement agreement with MAT Asphalt, which includes both financial penalties and additional operating requirements, which must be applied under existing and future contracts. The company paid the City the maximum financial penalty allowed by law. In response to the top community concerns, CDPH mandated that MAT Asphalt must also install stronger odor controls on a more aggressive schedule than otherwise required and implement more detailed dust control measures, including:

  • Within 21 days, MAT Asphalt must submit an odor control plan prepared by an independent, third-party environmental consultant for CDPH’s review and approval. The plan must provide details on how the company will install and maintain condensers atop liquid asphalt tanks and a system for capturing and controlling blue smoke. If CDPH finds the odor control plan insufficient, MAT Asphalt must submit a modified plan. Once approved, the company must always comply with the plan.
  • A dust control plan must be submitted within two weeks of the finalized agreement. Roadways and paved areas must be wetted, and dust must be collected with vacuum street sweeping. MAT Asphalt must use an equally effective method to control dust during the winter.
  • The company must use a misting system or mist cannon that effectively suppresses dust whenever material is added or removed from any material storage pile. 
  • The company must immediately clean up any material that is spilled on plant roadways and clean truck wheels or pavement as necessary to minimize the potential for dust or mud to be tracked out to public roadways.

Additionally, by October 1, MAT must install odor control condensers and top-of-silo blue smoke controls and a year from now, April 1, 2024, bottom-of-silo smoke controls need to be in place. Every season prior to operation, the company must submit to CDPH a third-party inspection report of the facility’s baghouse and ductwork. Click here to read the full settlement agreement.

View the MAT Asphalt Settlement Agreement (April 7, 2023)


New Rock-Crushing Facility Rules

On March 7, 2023, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced its new rules for Reprocessable Construction/Demolition Material Facilities (i.e., “rock crushing” facilities) designed to reduce dust and improve air quality in communities surrounding these facilities, implement continuous monitoring, and enhance CDPH oversight through greater reporting and record-keeping requirements.


In September 2021, CDPH issued a preliminary draft of proposed new rules to update and expand the existing requirements for rock crushing facilities in Chicago. CDPH refined and clarified those proposed new rules in consideration of the input received during an initial public comment period. CDPH then held a second, final comment period from November 21, 2022 through January 20, 2023.  The new, final rules include considerations from detailed comment letters CDPH received from environmental and community advocates as well as industry representatives. 


View a summary of the new rules: English | Spanish


Schroud Property

The Schroud Site, located southwest of the intersection of East 126th Place and South Avenue O in Chicago, has been identified as a priority for additional barriers to keep people off the property which contains some hazardous slag material from Republic/LTV Steel manufacturing operations.

Schroud site, south end barrier system

The City recently completed a barrier system along the south end.

CDPH continues to plan for clean-up with the community and EPA, which is expected to be complete in the next several years.

People are advised to stay off the Schroud Site to minimize potential exposure. While repeated exposure to the contents of this slag material can cause adverse health risks, there is no evidence of a health threat to people who live near the site.


Vulcan Materials Company, 3910 S Racine Avenue

Temporary operating hours waiver

Pursuant to Special Condition No. 9 of its C&D Reprocessing Facility permit, Vulcan Materials Company (“Vulcan”) has received a temporary written waiver from CDPH to operate beyond its normal operating hours of between 6:00 AM and 7:00 PM. Specifically, Vulcan is authorized to receive inbound material and ship outbound materials between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM each Saturday morning beginning March 4, 2023 and ending on May 27, 2023. The facility is not authorized to operate reprocessing equipment during this time. The expanded hours for delivery and shipment are required to accommodate CTA’s Blue Line Traction Power Upgrades project.

If you have any questions about this temporary waiver, please email envcomments@cityofchicago.org


Reporting Environmental Violations:

CDPH inspectors respond to citizen complaints about potential environmental violations, such as odors, air emissions, hazardous materials, oil spills, and illegal dumping*. Please call 311 to file an environmental complaint. However, if you see someone dumping what may be hazardous waste, call 911.

*Illegal dumping, or "fly dumping," is the dumping of any waste material on public or private property without a permit from CDPH. Waste that is commonly fly-dumped includes excavated soil, yard waste, tires, old furniture, household garbage, construction debris, appliances and hazardous waste (generally dumped in drums or barrels).

Please don't touch anything. The materials or emissions you're reporting could be toxic or harmful. Let our professional inspectors handle the matter.


CHICAGO AIR QUALITY ZONING ORDINANCE:

The Air Quality Zoning Ordinance,  approved by City Council in March 2021, regulates the construction and expansion of certain facilities that create air pollution. The ordinance requires a formal City review process and expands public engagement opportunities for the zoning, public health and transportation implications of many types of intensive manufacturing and industrial operations.

Read more information about the ordinance and review traffic and air quality studies for past and pending projects.


Permitting on Chicago's West Side

Metal Management Midwest, Inc. (Sims) - 2023 update

In 2021, Metal Management Midwest, Inc., doing business as Sims Metal Management (“Sims”) entered into an Agreed Order with the Illinois Attorney General to implement air pollution controls at their Pilsen facility, including the installation of a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) - a system to capture particulate matter and destroy volatile organic compounds (VOCs). To install these additional controls, Sims must obtain construction permits from both the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and CDPH. The IEPA issued a construction permit to Sims on September 15, 2022. Sims’ construction permit application to CDPH (called an Air Pollution Control permit) is currently under review.

Sims’ Air Pollution Control permit is separate and unrelated to the company’s application to CDPH for renewal of a Large Recycling Facility permit, which the company must have in order to continue operating. Sims submitted this application on November 12, 2021, with supplemental materials submitted in January 2023. The Large Recycling Facility application also remains under CDPH review. In the meantime, Sims may continue to operate under the terms of their current permit. If renewed, Sims would have to meet the new and strengthened requirements under the Rules for Large Recycling Facilities. On April 21, 2022, the U.S. EPA ordered Sims to install at least four high-grade air monitors that measure pollution. It must then report air monitoring results to the U.S. EPA. CDPH will not make a decision on Sims’ Large Recycling Facility Permit renewal application until we receive air monitoring data from the U.S. EPA sufficient to evaluate both short and long-term health effects of the company’s Pilsen facility. The air monitoring data is publicly available here.

If renewed, Sims would have to meet the new and strengthened requirements under the Rules for Large Recycling Facilities.

On April 21, 2022, the U.S. EPA ordered Sims to install at least four high-grade air monitors that measure pollution. It must then report air monitoring results to the U.S. EPA. CDPH will not make a decision on Sims’ Large Recycling Facility Permit renewal application until we receive air monitoring data from the U.S. EPA sufficient to evaluate both short and long-term health effects of the company’s Pilsen facility. The air monitoring data is publicly available here.

CDPH received numerous comments on Sims’ recycling facility application during the initial written comment period, indicating a significant degree of public interest in the renewal application. In line with our public engagement Guidelines for waste and large recycling facilities, CDPH will schedule a community meeting prior to making a decision on the Large Recycling Facility renewal application. In addition, CDPH will leave the written comment period open until at least five (5) days following the community meeting. Comments may be submitted to CDPH through this form.

Click here to read the permit renewal application submitted by Metal Management Midwest, Inc.


Permitting on Chicago's South Side

Lakeshore Recycling Systems, LLC
2141 S Packers Avenue (1300 W Exchange Avenue)

Lakeshore Recycling Systems LLC, (LRS) is seeking an expansion and modifications to its existing waste transfer station permit for the site at 2141 S Packers Avenue (also known as 1300 W Exchange Avenue). CDPH held a community meeting on the application on Thursday, August 18, 2022. CDPH also invites written comments through August 26, 2022. Comments may be submitted to envcomments@cityofchicago.org.

Chicago Rail and Port, LLC

On April 19, 2022, CDPH received a permit renewal application from Chicago Rail and Port, LLC for its large recycling facility located at 3236-3258 East 106th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60617. CDPH sought public input on the application between April 20, 2022, and May 20, 2022. Based on CDPH’s review of the permit renewal application and the public comments received, CDPH issued a deficiency letter on June 18, 2022.

Green Era 83rd Street, LLC

In February 2022, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) received permit applications from Green Era 83rd Street LLC to develop and operate a combination liquid waste facility and anaerobic digestor composting facility (Class III Recycling Facility) at 650 W 83rd Street. Following a public hearing and review of the liquid waste application, CDPH issued the deficiency on June 2, 2022.

On March 3, 3023, Green Era submitted its response to CPDH’s deficiency letter. CDPH held a public comment period on Green Era’s additional information until April 8, 2023. CDPH received no comments on the additional information.

Based on CDPH’s review of the applications and the additional information, CDPH determined that the proposed Facility met all relevant requirements and the facility, and its operations minimize impacts to surrounding community and the environment. As such, on April 11, 2023, CDPH issued a Liquid Waste Handling Facility permit and a Class III Recycling Facility permit to the applicant.


RMG Expansion on the southeast side

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR BRANDON JOHNSON
SOUTHSIDE RECYCLING/RMG PERMIT DENIAL VACATED

“I strongly disagree with the City’s Department of Administrative Hearings’ decision to vacate the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH)’s denial of an operating permit for Southside Recycling – the metal shredding plant located at East 116th Street on the City’s Southeast Side.

My administration stands firmly behind CDPH’s permit denial and the comprehensive review that led to it. We will immediately appeal the administrative judge’s ruling and continue our fight to uphold our authority under the law to make decisions that protect the environment, health, and quality-of-life for residents of the 10th ward and all environmental justice communities.

Our decision to appeal is guided in large part by the Health Impact Assessment conducted by CDPH, under the guidance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), that found that certain census block groups in the Southeast Side community rank among the highest in Chicago for vulnerability to air pollution, based on underlying health and social conditions. The HIA also found that community conditions on the Southeast Side have been affected by the presence of past and current industry, and that the proposed Southside Recycling facility would contribute additional negative impacts.

I want to recognize the grassroots organizers and activists who have long fought for environmental justice in our city. Despite this ruling, I remain committed to alleviating the impact of industrial pollution, and my administration will continue working with residents and community organizations to deliver improved health and environmental outcomes for every Chicago resident and neighborhood.”