Our approach to tackling the problem of residential mercury contamination in Huancavelica is based on the concept of “fractionalization,” or breaking the problem, and solution, into manageable components. We do this through two ways. One is by “fractionalizing” the home into its component parts, such as bedroom, living room, kitchen etc. The second is through seeking individual and group donations to remediate each part, allowing the donor to have a direct impact on a specific home and to see the results of their contribution.
We have already sampled, analyzed and prioritized 45 homes in Huancavelica based on the levels of contamination and number of children in the household. In addition, we have developed a remediation plan for each home, and have the remediation teams organized and ready for action.
The remediation process is fairly straightforward. First, the residents are offered alternative lodging for the duration of the work, which takes about 5 days, and their furnishings are removed and placed in a safe location. Next, we resample the air and adobe in the home. The remediation team then prepares the interior walls and applies the stucco to established specifications. Workers then create the forms and pour the cement for the floor.
When work is complete, we sample the walls and air for mercury vapor to ensure the efficacy of the work compared to data collected earlier. Once everything is complete, the beneficiary’s furnishings are replaced, and they can move into their improved, and healthy, home. Although some of our beneficiaries are physically unable, or have childcare or other responsibilities, we ask them to assist in this work whenever it is possible.