Environmental Health Program
Many contamination sites exist in low-income, minority communities, where toxic chemicals such as pesticides and solvents contaminate the ground water and pollute the air. Many residents are unaware of the potential health effects caused by these contaminants. (Insert pictures of dairies, landfills and trash)
The Office of Border Health Environmental Health Program's overall goal is to advocate for improvements in environmental health and justice for communities in the border region. This is done through the provision of support and guidance in: assessments of real or potential health risks in the environment, including air, soil and water; ensure that border residents’ human and legal rights are protected through a program of environmental justice; increase knowledge and capacity of border community residents and the organizations that serve them in areas of environmental health and justice.
Founded in 1995, the Environmental Health Program was created in response to increased community concerns regarding environmental health issues along the border as a consequence of increased population growth, increased industrial development and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The work of the program is made possible by the New Mexico State Legislature, the major funding source, and other periodic grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The border region has limited supplies of fresh, clean water due to increased industrial development and population. Although border residents currently receive their drinking water from ground water resources, planning is underway to use the Rio Grande as a future drinking water source. The use of the Rio Grande for drinking water can increase residents' exposure to infectious organisms.
Both ground water and surface water sources are at risk from naturally occurring contaminants such as fluoride, manganese, and arsenic as well as from manmade contaminants such as pesticides and solvents.
The Environmental Health Program has assisted border residents by:
- Conducting monitoring of the Rio Grande and drains to determine concentrations of contaminants and potential impact on health
- Conducting periodic monitoring of ground water resources, both regulated mutual domestic systems and private wells, to determine concentrations of contaminants and potential impact on health
- Providing education to border residents facilitating public meetings to discuss water and health, and broadcasting documentaries on environmental health issues such as the safety of the Rio Grande
- Conducting community-based and countywide environmental health profiles to predict the future water quality of public drinking water supplies and to identify potential health risks to residents
- Assisting with the identification, inventory, and clean-up of existing contamination sites to protect public and private drinking water sources
- Compiling and summarizing water quality data from various agencies and non-profit organizations for public access
The Environmental Health Program increases community awareness and government accountability by:
- Developing community-level and county-wide environmental health assessments to determine risks in the community and strategies to deal with them
- Collecting, cataloging and disseminating information on border-related environmental risks and protection strategies for use by the public
- Visiting residents' homes and conducting safety checks to identify environmental problems within the homes such as fire and chemical exposure hazards
- Developing media outreach and training concerning all-hazards emergency preparedness, including such events as floods, pandemic influenza, and air quality emergencies
- Performing outreach to educate community residents on environmental health in areas of air and water quality, vector-borne diseases, exposure-related health risks (e.g., sunburn and skin cancer)
Assessment of Environmental Lead Found in Soils and Indoor Dust in Communities of the City of Sunland Park, New Mexico
Integrated Secondary Education and Research Project: Assessment of Lead Hazards in Communities in a New Mexico Border
New Mexico Border Health
- Policy and Binational Coordination
- Local and Regional Coordination
- Health Promotion, Communication & Education
- Epidemiology and Surveillance
- Environmental Health and Justice
- Research and Assessments