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Asbestos Exposure in New Mexico

The risk of exposure to asbestos varies by state and county. Different states have specific regulations on how the mineral may be used, and therefore have different levels of risk. New Mexico has several job sites where asbestos was used in construction, as well as several environmental sites where there are asbestos deposits.

High-Risk Areas

There are certain areas in New Mexico where asbestos is more likely to be found than others. Higher-risk places include natural deposits, a processing site in Albuquerque, and other job sites around the state. Areas include:

Environmental Exposure

Asbestos minerals have been found in limestone and a variety of other mineral deposits around New Mexico. However, unless disturbed, it’s unlikely people would inhale or ingest asbestos fibers. Those who are at high risk include miners, construction workers, and demolition crews. Asbestos can also be found in small amounts around various geologic terranes in the southern part of the state, but the level is low and less of a health risk.

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A Site in Alburquerque, New Mexico and Libby, Montana

Vermiculite is another mineral that develops in underground geologic formations all over the world. One of the largest deposits is located in Libby, Montana, where both vermiculite and asbestos minerals can be found together. Too, amphibole is a type of asbestos that was found in a vermiculite mine in Montana.

It was later discovered that the vermiculite ore processed from the mine held up to 26 percent amphibole minerals before it was concentrated and milled in Libby, then shipped across the country. Shipments contained concentrations of asbestos ranging from 0.3 percent to 7 percent between 1920 to 1990. In 1990, the mine was closed, but not before it had supplied vermiculite to several hundred sites in the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted extensive research and created a database from shipping invoices at a facility in New Mexico. The agency determined that 231 tons of vermiculite ore from the Libby mine was shipped to a chemical conglomerate known as W.R. Grace in New Mexico between September 1983 and May 1988. These shipments were contaminated with asbestos, exposing workers and nearby residents to the toxic minerals.

After this discovery, W.R. Grace told the EPA it would source vermiculite from a new facility in South Carolina. After close observation of this new facility, the EPA determined it was clean and that no further action would be needed.

On the Job

Due to its fire-resistant properties, asbestos was used heavily in construction and is still found in certain capacities on job sites today. Other occupational asbestos risk areas include:

Military Bases and Work Sites

The U.S. military used the carcinogen as insulation, specifically in ships and shipyards, aircraft, military vehicles, and military bases. As a result, veterans have a higher risk of asbestos exposure, especially those who served in the Navy and spent most of their time in shipyards.

There isn’t a Marine or Navy base in the state, but there are currently three Air Force bases:

  1. Cannon Air Force Base in Curry, NM
  2. Holloman Air Force Base in Otero, NM
  3. Kirtland Air Force Base in Bernalillo, NM

There are also two current Army bases:

  1. White Sands Missile Range Army Base in Otero, NM
  2. Los Alamos Demolition Army Base in North Central, NM
Civilian Job Sites

Besides the military, asbestos has been used in many other job sites. Some areas include mining sites, oil refineries, power plants, and railroads. Job sites in New Mexico that have confirmed the use of asbestos at some point include:

NameLocation
6200 NORTHLAND N.E. SHOWHOUSEALBUQUERQUE, NM
AC HOUSTON LUMBER COGALLUP, NM
4 CORNERS POWERHOUSEFARMINGTON, NM
CHINO MINES COMPANYHURLEY, NM
ALBUQUERQUE GAS & ELECTRICBERNALILLO, NM
BUILDERS MATERIALS INCALBUQUERQUE, NM
BATES LUMBER COALBUQUERQUE, NM
BURN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC.LAS CRUCES, NM
BUILDERS MATERIALS, INCORPORATEDALBUQUERQUE, NM
ACF/GE PLANTALBUQUERQUE, NM
ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE ??? FOUR CORNERS POWER PLANTFRUITLAND, NM
CHACO COMPRESSOR STATIONFARMINGTON, NM
CITY OF LAS CRUCES GAS DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMLAS CRUCES, NM
AQUA FRIA SCHOOLSANTA FE, NM
AMERICAN GYPSUM CO.ALBUQUERQUE, NM
ALBUQUERQUE CONVENTION CENTERALBUQUERQUE, NM
CLIMAX CHEMICALMONUMENT, NM
ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY – FOUR CORNERSFRUITLAND, NM
CINEZA REFINERYGALLUP, NM
BREWER BUILDERSALBUQUERQUE, NM
CHINO MINES POWER PLANTHURLEY, NM
CITY OF BERNALILLO – WASTEWATER PLANTBERNALILLO, NM
CLOWE AND COWAN INCROSWELL, NM
HOMESTAKE MINING & UNITED NUCLEAR CORPORATIONGRANTS, NM
HOLMAN AFBHOLMAN, NM
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASEALAMOGORDO, NM
EPPSCO INCALBUQUERQUE, NM
DUVAL SULFUR & POTASHCARLSBAD, NM
DESERT INDUSTRIESALBUQUERQUE, NM
FORT WINGATE PLANTGALLUP, NM
EL PASO NATURAL GAS COFARMINGTON, NM
COOPER MILLTYRONE, NM
COMMUNITY PUBLIC SERVICELORDSBURG, NM
FARMERS COMPRESS COMPANYLAS CRUCES, NM
ELDORADO HIGH SCHOOLALBUQUERQUE, NM
GEO. S. THOMPSON CO.ALBUQUERQUE, NM
HOLOMAN AIR FORCE BASEALAMAGORDO, NM
H.B. ZACHRY COMPANYHOBBS, NM
GLENN RESIDENCE, 1938 HANESANTA FE, NM
FOUR CORNERS POWER PLANTFRUITLAND, NM
FOUR CORNERS POWERHOUSEFARMINGTON, NM
COLUMBIA ASBESTOS COMPANYALBUQUERQUE, NM
HAINES SEWING PLANTLAS CRUCES, NM
IDEAL CEMENT CO.ALBUQUERQUE, NM
INTERNATIONAL MIN. & CHEMICAL CORPORATIONCARLSBAD, NM
LAS VEGAS – WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTLAS VEGAS, NM
J. KORBER & COMPANYALBUQUERQUE, NM
HOUSTON LUMBER COMPANYCLOVIS, NM
KINNEY BRICK COMPANYKINNEY, NM
KERR-MAC POTASH COCARLSBAD, NM
KERR MCGEE POTASH MINECARLSBAD, NM
LEA COUNTY ELECTRIC COOLOVINGTON, NM
KIRKLAND AIR FORCE BASEALBUQUERQUE, NM
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASEALBUQUERQUE, NM
LOS ALAMOS ATOMIC TESTING SITELOS ALAMOS, NM
INTERNATIONAL MINERALS AND CHEMICAL CORPORATIONCARLSBAD, NM
HUDSON ENGINEERING CORPORATIONGALLUP, NM
LEXCO COMORIARTY, NM
KIRTLAND AFB, SANDIA BASEALBUQUERQUE, NM
LEA COUNTY CO-OPLOVINGTON, NM
KINNEY BRICK COALBUQUERQUE, NM
LOCO HILLS PRESSURE MAINTENANCE COMPANYARTESIS, NM
KENT NOWLIN CONSTRUCTION COMPANYALBUQUERQUE, NM
MADDOX POWER PLANTHOBBS, NM
NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY, SAN JUAN UNIT #2LA MESA, NM
NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY – SAN JUAN UNIT #2LA MESA, NM
NEVADA CONSOLIDATED COPPER CORPORATION (A/K/A KENNECOTT COPPER)HURLEY, NM
NATIONAL MINECARLSBAD, NM
NATIONAL POTASH COCARLSBAD, NM
NEW MEXICO METALS CORPLOS LUNAS, NM
NAVAJO REFININGARTESIA, NM
NEW MEXICO ELECTRIC SERVICE CO – MADDOX PLANTHOBBS, NM
NEW MEXICO POWER COMPANYDAWSON, NM
NALLEYS INCALBUQUERQUE, NM
MATHIS AND MATHIS MINING ANDSILVER CITY, NM
MONTERREY SCHOOLROSWELL, NM
MOLYBDENUM CORPORATION OF AMERICAQUESTA, NM
LOS ALAMOS LABSLOS ALAMOS, NM
LOS ALAMOS LABORATORIESLOS ALAMOS, NM
NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS UNIVERSITYLAS VEGAS, NM
LOS ALAMOS POWER PLANTLOS ALAMOS, NM
NALLAYS INCALBUQUERQUE, NM
MUNICIPAL LIGHT PLANT FARMINGTONFARMINGTON, NM
RECKLAW RESIDENCE, RIO RANCHO ESTATESALBUQUERQUE, NM
PUBLIC SERV CO NMWATERFLOW, NM
PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT CORPFARMINGTON, NM
RUBIS METAL INCALBUQUERQUE, NM
NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITYLAS CRUCES, NM
RESIDENCE, 12400 MORROW N.E.ALBUQUERQUE, NM
NEW MEXICO PUMP & EQUIPMENTALBUQUERQUE, NM
POTASH COMPANY OF AMERICACARLSBAD, NM
PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF NEW MEXICOFRUITLAND, NM
REEVES STATIONALBUQUERQUE, NM
ROSWELL BRACKISH WATER TREATMENT FACILITYROSWELL, NM
REEVES POWER PLANTALBUQUERQUE, NM
SAN JUAN POWER PLANTFARMINGTON, NM
NEW MEXICO STATE PENITENTIARYSANTA FE, NM
PECOS VALLEY COMPRESSROSWELL, NM
RUBIS METALS INCALBUQUERQUE, NM
POTASH CO OF AMERICACARLSBAD, NM
PLATEAU REFINERYFARMINGTON, NM
PAN AMERICAN PETROLEUM CO.ARTESIA, NM
RED SEAL INCALBUQUERQUE, NM
U.S. POTASH COMPANYLOVING, NM
TRI-STATE INSULATIONALBUQUERQUE, NM
UNITED NUCLEAR CORP HOMESGRANTS, NM
SOUTHERN UNION GAS PLANTBLOOMFIELD, NM
SINCLAIR OIL & GAS COMPANYTATUM, NM
STEARN ROGERS, INC.WATERFLOW, NM
SANTE FE HOSPITALALBUQUERQUE, NM
SOUTHWEST POTASH CORPCARLSBAD, NM
SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANYROSWELL, NM
SANTA FE RAILROAD FACILITYALBUQUERQUE, NM
SOUTHWEST POTASHCARLSBAD, NM
SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE COCLOVIS, NM
SOHIO NATURAL RESOURCESEBUYETA, NM
SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE – CUNNINGHAM STATIONHOBBS, NM
TOWN OF CLOVIS – WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTCLOVIS, NM
SOUTHERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANYCLOVIS, NM
UNITED NUCLEAR CORPORATIONGRANTS, NM
SOUTHERNWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANYCARLSBAD, NM
TOWN OF FARMINGTONFARMINGTON, NM
SANDIA LABSALBUQUERQUE, NM
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGEWHITE SANDS, NM
UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICOALBUQUERQUE, NM
US POTASHCARLSBAD, NM
WARREN PETROLEUM CORPORATIONHOBBS, NM
WALKER AIR FORCE BASEROSWELL, NM
WARREN PETROLEUM CO.MONUMENT, NM
ZIA CORPORATIONLOS ALAMOS, NM

Avoiding Exposure in New Mexico

It’s possible to avoid asbestos exposure if you take certain precautions. Having an awareness of where asbestos is located can make it much easier to avoid. A few states have banned the mineral outright, making it less common to find, but it’s still important to be vigilant.

The easiest way to prevent asbestos exposure is to avoid the mineral when it is broken up or crumbled. If a crew is demolishing, building, or renovating a building that contains asbestos, there’s a higher chance the fibers could be airborne, exposing people in the area.

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Actions Against Asbestos

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken several steps to ban asbestos. In 1989, there was a partial ban on the manufacturing, importation, processing, and distribution of some products that contained the mineral. New uses for the carcinogen were also banned, preventing its presence in the marketplace.

Most recently, the “Final Rule”, passed in April 2019, closed a loophole declaring asbestos products no longer on the market be banned from returning to commerce without a further evaluation from the EPA. Currently, the EPA is also evaluating ongoing uses of asbestos and analyzing future risks involved. If the risk of a product or application is too significant, then the agency will address it.

New Mexico Regulations On Asbestos

The Air Quality Bureau (AQB) in New Mexico aims to protect New Mexico’s residents by addressing issues regarding air quality, including asbestos. One goal is to protect the environment and the public by eliminating the release of asbestos fibers into the air. The agency’s regulations focus on contractors, facility managers, and owners, requiring they abide by strict regulations or be liable if they don’t.

New Mexico adopted the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) to give contractors and facility owners a way to minimize asbestos risk. One way is by requiring notices for renovation and demolition projects only when they are up to standard.

For more information, the AQB also provides a fact sheet to the public, titled: Asbestos in New Mexico Frequently Asked Questions. If you reside in New Mexico and have any questions or concerns, contact the AQB bureau’s Asbestos Hotline at 1-800-224-7009, or send an email to asbesto.aqb@state.nm.us.

Asbestos-Related Illnesses

Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to cancer and other illnesses that develop over time. Generally, older adults and seniors are the primary group affected since there’s usually a significant latency period. Asbestos-related conditions include:

  • Asbestosis – Scarring of the lung tissue
  • Mesothelioma – Type of cancer in the tissue around the lung, abdominal, or heart cavities
  • Lung cancer Type of cancer in the lungs
  • Pleural Plaques – A hardening around the lungs and diaphragm

If you believe you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s recommended that you see a doctor to receive an evaluation and discuss potential treatment.

Treatment Centers Near New Mexico

There are several cancer treatment centers around New Mexico for patients who have symptoms or concerns about asbestos exposure or related illnesses. Treatment centers include:

These treatment centers are either in New Mexico or bordering states, making them relatively close.

Next Steps

If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos on the job and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, you could be entitled to legal compensation. Download our free guide to learn more about mesothelioma. You can also contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free case evaluation. No one should go through this alone.

If you’ve encountered asbestos while on the job, your employer could be held responsible. Learn about your legal options.

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