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Special Projects: Pueblo Mercury Reduction Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) Grants

In March 2009, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awarded three Pueblo Mercury Reduction grants. Approximately $300,000 in funding was available for these grants from a previous environmental enforcement settlement reached between the Air Pollution Control Division and the Rocky Mountain Steel Mills. Final grant reports will be posted on this site as projects are completed.


Grants were awarded to:


Bioaccumulation of Mercury in Aquatic Food Webs: Integrating Research and Management Towards Remediation - $25,488


Project Summary:

Mercury contamination is a known concern for human health worldwide, and is particularly harmful to the nervous system during fetal and early child development. Integration of mercury into aquatic food webs results in contamination levels in fish that are high enough to present health concerns for humans who consume fish. Resource and sampling limitations have hindered a comprehensive understanding of mercury dynamics in aquatic systems. The proposed research builds upon ongoing efforts to characterize mercury contamination and exposure in the State of Colorado. We will combine existing data with newly collected data to model how alterations in reservoir and food web characteristics might be used as management tools to reduce mercury contamination in popular Colorado sport fish harvested for consumption by anglers and their families. We will then evaluate the benefits and feasibility of these actions with respect to the mercury contaminated walleye (Sander vitreus) population in Brush Hollow Reservoir in southeastern Colorado.



Pueblo Mercury Education and Reduction - $100,881


Project Summary:

The Pueblo Mercury Education and Reduction Project will foster youth leadership for low-income students from local middle and high schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, environmental clubs and Math Engineering Science Association (MESA) groups. Fifty-five volunteer students will learn about elemental mercury, bioaccumulation of mercury, light bulb efficiency, scientific measurements of mercury in the environment, exposure and neurological health risks for children and pregnant women. All printed materials intended for distribution or public consumption will be submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for approval before distribution or posting. The approved information will be used during informational presentations on mercury at school and public community meetings throughout the Pueblo area where 800 participants will be educated.


By offering digital thermometers and thermostats in exchange for those containing mercury and assuring proper installation through licensed/bonded electricians, the grant aims to target up to 500 households, small businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the city and county. Evaluation and measuring of the effect of the project will be obtained through written feedback sheets which will be given to participants at presentations; detailed records of the number of participants; and the number of thermometers and thermometers exchanged. This data will provide documentation about the extent of outreach and numbers of people educated and on the amount of mercury and accompanying health risk reduction in Pueblo homes and numbers who took concrete action to reduce mercury exposure in their own households. Education provides lifetime understanding of mercury hazards and teaches people how to avoid human exposure for themselves and their families, inform others, and provide for sustained ability to avoid mercury hazards in the future.


Pueblo Mercury Reduction Project - $186,085


Project Summary:

The Pueblo Mercury Reduction Program aims to lessen mercury in the air and waterways in Pueblo County through a source reduction and community education campaign. Mercury waste in dental offices will be targeted through an outreach program. The project will review the 2004 study coordinated by Tetra Tech and act upon suggestions that have not yet been addressed. The Project Coordinator will go to the dental offices to ensure greater participation and support from dentists. Best Management Practices for dental offices will be highlighted in office visits. Dentists will also be offered free amalgam separators to contain mercury waste from fillings.


In addition to working with dental practices, the current fluorescent bulb recycling program will be expanded to include Pueblo city and county buildings as well as public drop-off sites. To encourage local business recycling of fluorescent bulbs, they will be offered fluorescent bulb recycling containers for attending an educational meeting about mercury in businesses. An educational campaign geared toward the Pueblo community will encourage proper disposal of mercury-containing devices and recycling options available in the area.


For more information on these grants, please contact:

  • Rachel Wilson-Roussel, SEP Coordinator




Please note that final grant reports will be posted on this site as projects are completed.