Lead Program

The Pueblo City-County Health Department Lead Program is dedicated to educating residents on how to prevent and reduce lead exposures in and around their homes. Public Health is concerned about any source of lead that is causing a risk or is a health hazard to the occupants of the home. Public Health believes that there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. Lead effects everyone however, the most vulnerable populations are children, women of child-bearing age, pregnant or nursing women. The effects of lead may not be easily seen or recognized and may be long-lasting.

          


In general, people can be exposed to lead by:

  • accidental ingestion of contaminated dust or soil (hand-to-mouth activities in young children),

  • intentional ingestion of non-food items (pica behavior)

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are at least 4 million households with children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. In response to this, the lead program will provide the following services to residents of Pueblo County:

  • Lead risk and hazard reduction education to resident owners, property managers, and tenants;

  • Lead risk and hazard reduction education for occupational and hobby exposures;

  • Environmental testing program for Lead hazard screening (cost: $42.00/hour or no cost to those located within the Superfund Study Area);

  • Blood Lead screening for children up to age 16, women of child-bearing age, pregnant or nursing women (cost: to be detemined); and

  • Blood Lead monitoring program for children with blood levels at or above 5.0 µg/dL.

For more information or to request blood lead or indoor paint testing please contact the Environmental Health Division (719) 583-4307.

 

Common Sources of Lead Exposure

INDOOR

· Paint: Lead-based paint can be found in homes built before 1978 or on old painted toys and furniture.

· Dust: Lead  dust comes from lead-based painted surfaces that are in poor condition, high impact surfaces or from surfaces  that have been disturbed by scraping, sanding, chipping, flaking or from contaminated soil that is tracked or blown into the home.

· Water: Older homes may have plumbing with lead or lead solder, faucets that contain lead or a well where contamination has affected the groundwater. To request water testing in the City of Pueblo click here.

· Tableware that is imported, old  or handmade may contain lead;  porcelain and pottery may contain lead-based glaze; or leaded crystal, pewter or brass.

· New Toys: Lead may be found in/on the paint and plastic of imported toys, toy jewelry or unclean toys.

· Candy & Foods that are imported may contain lead in the ingredients, wrappers or soldering of the cans, especially those from Mexico and China.

 

OUTDOOR

· Soil & Air: Residues from industrial operation, use of leaded gasoline or lead-based paint.

· Workplaces with the potential for lead exposure include: building demolition, painting, renovation/ remodeling, construction, battery recycling, radiator repair, and bridge repair.

Health Effects

Health effects: in children - difficulties learning and lowered IQ, problems with attention, behavior, and speech, slowed growth and development or hearing loss;

Health effects  in adults – high blood pressure, lack of concentration or memory loss, irratibility, depression, fatigue, nausea and poor appetite, decreased sex drive and spontaneous miscarriage.

Blood Lead Level Screening Information

 

Methods to Reduce Exposure

There are simple actions you can do to reduce exposure to lead sources and improve health (wash hands before you eat; use wet cleaning).

View this video to learn how to reduce exposure to lead at home Dirt Alert Pueblo.

COLORADO SMELTER BACKGROUND

The Colorado Smelter operated for 25 years, from 1883 until 1908 and was located in south Pueblo, just south of the Arkansas River at the south end of Santa Fe Avenue.  It was constructed in a large ravine between what is now Santa Fe Avenue and Interstate 25.  The owners of the Madonna Mine, located in the mountains far to the west in Monarch, Colorado, built the Colorado Smelter to smelt the extracted silver-lead ore in a cost effective manner. The ore from the Madonna mine processed at the Colorado Smelter contained 30 percent lead by weight (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 2008). 

Site inspection, sampling and historic information identified a couple of areas of contamination associated with the Colorado Smelter

  1. Slag pile that covers 25 acres (728,171 square feet) and is up to 30 feet high in place.

  2. Lead contamination of nearby residential soils from past air emissions and run-off (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 2008).

Access to the slag pile is unrestricted except for fencing at Benedict Park, which borders the slag pile.  However, local authorities report that the fencing is often cut, and children access the slag pile from the park to climb and ride mountain bikes. Local authorities also report indications that homeless people access the slag pile. 

Sampling investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA) and the State of Colorado in 1992, 1994, 1995, 2008, and 2010 found lead levels up to 26,500 mg/kg in the slag pile and up to 4,900 mg/kg of lead in 30 residential soils.

Information about the Colorado Smelter Site in Pueblo.

The Pueblo City-County Health Department received a grant from the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency to provide lead testing and risk reduction for the residents in the Superfund Study Area.