The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is seeking continuation of cooperative
agreement funding to support the Colorado APPLETREE Program (CO-AP) for the purpose of protecting
people in Colorado from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment by translating science into
tools and actions that people can take to prevent harmful health effects.
Colorado’s environment, characterized by the Rocky Mountains, deserts, and plains, is home to
over 5.8 million people and, in 2021, drew more than 84 million visitors to the state. Most people don’t
initially think of the thousands of hazardous waste sites, tens of thousands of oil and gas wells, and over a
thousand contaminated water bodies that span the state. However, these sites have the potential to impact
people. Approximately 40% of Coloradans live in disproportionately-impacted communities, 300,000 drink
unregulated water from private wells, and earlier this year, thousands were affected by the worst wildfire in
the state’s history that damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes.
For over 20 years, ATSDR funding has enabled CO-AP to quickly assess and work to reduce
environmental exposures when they arise. In the past year alone, CO-AP has fielded over 500 calls
received through our toxicology hotline and reached over 40,000 people with our health education efforts in
the last year. Additionally, we have completed 60 technical assists and are actively engaged in health
assessment and community outreach at four National Priority List sites. APPLETREE funding is critical for
CO-AP to continue reducing or eliminating exposures to hazardous substances from the places we live,
learn, work, and play in this state. If awarded, this funding would also support building our capacity to
provide additional health education to medical providers to also respond to these concerns, improve how
we incorporate health equity perspectives, and better address cumulative impacts that disproportionately
impact specific communities.
CO-AP will organize its activities during the proposed budget period around two components:
Component 1A - site assessments and community/stakeholder engagement, Component 1B - Choose
Safe Places for Early Care and Education (CSPECE), and Component 2 - capacity building to proactively
and equitably respond to and prepare for exposures to environmental contaminants that disproportionately
impact Colorado’s most vulnerable populations. The proposed project activities are further outlined in two
project narratives, one for each component. These activities will advance the strategies and outcomes
identified in the logic models.
The proposed CO-AP team has over 80 years of experience in exposure assessment,
toxicology, epidemiology, community involvement, health education, and program evaluation. CO-AP
resides within an office that also houses two other NCEH/CDC-funded programs and growing state-funding
focused on programs to address emerging concerns like air toxics and PFAS. Having all of these programs
in a single branch allows significant leveraging of resources for epidemiology, toxicology, and statistical
analysis expertise. The office acts as the bridge across the public health and environmental programs
across Colorado, and therefore CO-AP is uniquely positioned to play a critical role in both CDPHE’s and
ATSDR’s goal of keeping the places we live, learn, work, and play safe from harmful environmental
exposures and related diseases. APPLETREE funding is essential to meeting this shared goal.