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:

This is an image representing environmental exposure - specifically mining.

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.


This is an image representing a mining site.

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.


This is an image representing occupational exposure to asbestos.

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:

Name Location
6200 NORTHLAND N.E. SHOWHOUSE ALBUQUERQUE, NM
AC HOUSTON LUMBER CO GALLUP, NM
4 CORNERS POWERHOUSE FARMINGTON, NM
CHINO MINES COMPANY HURLEY, NM
ALBUQUERQUE GAS & ELECTRIC BERNALILLO, NM
BUILDERS MATERIALS INC ALBUQUERQUE, NM
BATES LUMBER CO ALBUQUERQUE, NM
BURN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC. LAS CRUCES, NM
BUILDERS MATERIALS, INCORPORATED ALBUQUERQUE, NM
ACF/GE PLANT ALBUQUERQUE, NM
ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE ??? FOUR CORNERS POWER PLANT FRUITLAND, NM
CHACO COMPRESSOR STATION FARMINGTON, NM
CITY OF LAS CRUCES GAS DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM LAS CRUCES, NM
AQUA FRIA SCHOOL SANTA FE, NM
AMERICAN GYPSUM CO. ALBUQUERQUE, NM
ALBUQUERQUE CONVENTION CENTER ALBUQUERQUE, NM
CLIMAX CHEMICAL MONUMENT, NM
ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY – FOUR CORNERS FRUITLAND, NM
CINEZA REFINERY GALLUP, NM
BREWER BUILDERS ALBUQUERQUE, NM
CHINO MINES POWER PLANT HURLEY, NM
CITY OF BERNALILLO – WASTEWATER PLANT BERNALILLO, NM
CLOWE AND COWAN INC ROSWELL, NM
HOMESTAKE MINING & UNITED NUCLEAR CORPORATION GRANTS, NM
HOLMAN AFB HOLMAN, NM
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE ALAMOGORDO, NM
EPPSCO INC ALBUQUERQUE, NM
DUVAL SULFUR & POTASH CARLSBAD, NM
DESERT INDUSTRIES ALBUQUERQUE, NM
FORT WINGATE PLANT GALLUP, NM
EL PASO NATURAL GAS CO FARMINGTON, NM
COOPER MILL TYRONE, NM
COMMUNITY PUBLIC SERVICE LORDSBURG, NM
FARMERS COMPRESS COMPANY LAS CRUCES, NM
ELDORADO HIGH SCHOOL ALBUQUERQUE, NM
GEO. S. THOMPSON CO. ALBUQUERQUE, NM
HOLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE ALAMAGORDO, NM
H.B. ZACHRY COMPANY HOBBS, NM
GLENN RESIDENCE, 1938 HANE SANTA FE, NM
FOUR CORNERS POWER PLANT FRUITLAND, NM
FOUR CORNERS POWERHOUSE FARMINGTON, NM
COLUMBIA ASBESTOS COMPANY ALBUQUERQUE, NM
HAINES SEWING PLANT LAS CRUCES, NM
IDEAL CEMENT CO. ALBUQUERQUE, NM
INTERNATIONAL MIN. & CHEMICAL CORPORATION CARLSBAD, NM
LAS VEGAS – WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT LAS VEGAS, NM
J. KORBER & COMPANY ALBUQUERQUE, NM
HOUSTON LUMBER COMPANY CLOVIS, NM
KINNEY BRICK COMPANY KINNEY, NM
KERR-MAC POTASH CO CARLSBAD, NM
KERR MCGEE POTASH MINE CARLSBAD, NM
LEA COUNTY ELECTRIC COO LOVINGTON, NM
KIRKLAND AIR FORCE BASE ALBUQUERQUE, NM
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE ALBUQUERQUE, NM
LOS ALAMOS ATOMIC TESTING SITE LOS ALAMOS, NM
INTERNATIONAL MINERALS AND CHEMICAL CORPORATION CARLSBAD, NM
HUDSON ENGINEERING CORPORATION GALLUP, NM
LEXCO CO MORIARTY, NM
KIRTLAND AFB, SANDIA BASE ALBUQUERQUE, NM
LEA COUNTY CO-OP LOVINGTON, NM
KINNEY BRICK CO ALBUQUERQUE, NM
LOCO HILLS PRESSURE MAINTENANCE COMPANY ARTESIS, NM
KENT NOWLIN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY ALBUQUERQUE, NM
MADDOX POWER PLANT HOBBS, NM
NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY, SAN JUAN UNIT #2 LA MESA, NM
NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY – SAN JUAN UNIT #2 LA MESA, NM
NEVADA CONSOLIDATED COPPER CORPORATION (A/K/A KENNECOTT COPPER) HURLEY, NM
NATIONAL MINE CARLSBAD, NM
NATIONAL POTASH CO CARLSBAD, NM
NEW MEXICO METALS CORP LOS LUNAS, NM
NAVAJO REFINING ARTESIA, NM
NEW MEXICO ELECTRIC SERVICE CO – MADDOX PLANT HOBBS, NM
NEW MEXICO POWER COMPANY DAWSON, NM
NALLEYS INC ALBUQUERQUE, NM
MATHIS AND MATHIS MINING AND SILVER CITY, NM
MONTERREY SCHOOL ROSWELL, NM
MOLYBDENUM CORPORATION OF AMERICA QUESTA, NM
LOS ALAMOS LABS LOS ALAMOS, NM
LOS ALAMOS LABORATORIES LOS ALAMOS, NM
NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS UNIVERSITY LAS VEGAS, NM
LOS ALAMOS POWER PLANT LOS ALAMOS, NM
NALLAYS INC ALBUQUERQUE, NM
MUNICIPAL LIGHT PLANT FARMINGTON FARMINGTON, NM
RECKLAW RESIDENCE, RIO RANCHO ESTATES ALBUQUERQUE, NM
PUBLIC SERV CO NM WATERFLOW, NM
PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT CORP FARMINGTON, NM
RUBIS METAL INC ALBUQUERQUE, NM
NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY LAS CRUCES, NM
RESIDENCE, 12400 MORROW N.E. ALBUQUERQUE, NM
NEW MEXICO PUMP & EQUIPMENT ALBUQUERQUE, NM
POTASH COMPANY OF AMERICA CARLSBAD, NM
PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF NEW MEXICO FRUITLAND, NM
REEVES STATION ALBUQUERQUE, NM
ROSWELL BRACKISH WATER TREATMENT FACILITY ROSWELL, NM
REEVES POWER PLANT ALBUQUERQUE, NM
SAN JUAN POWER PLANT FARMINGTON, NM
NEW MEXICO STATE PENITENTIARY SANTA FE, NM
PECOS VALLEY COMPRESS ROSWELL, NM
RUBIS METALS INC ALBUQUERQUE, NM
POTASH CO OF AMERICA CARLSBAD, NM
PLATEAU REFINERY FARMINGTON, NM
PAN AMERICAN PETROLEUM CO. ARTESIA, NM
RED SEAL INC ALBUQUERQUE, NM
U.S. POTASH COMPANY LOVING, NM
TRI-STATE INSULATION ALBUQUERQUE, NM
UNITED NUCLEAR CORP HOMES GRANTS, NM
SOUTHERN UNION GAS PLANT BLOOMFIELD, NM
SINCLAIR OIL & GAS COMPANY TATUM, NM
STEARN ROGERS, INC. WATERFLOW, NM
SANTE FE HOSPITAL ALBUQUERQUE, NM
SOUTHWEST POTASH CORP CARLSBAD, NM
SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY ROSWELL, NM
SANTA FE RAILROAD FACILITY ALBUQUERQUE, NM
SOUTHWEST POTASH CARLSBAD, NM
SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE CO CLOVIS, NM
SOHIO NATURAL RESOURCE SEBUYETA, NM
SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE – CUNNINGHAM STATION HOBBS, NM
TOWN OF CLOVIS – WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT CLOVIS, NM
SOUTHERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY CLOVIS, NM
UNITED NUCLEAR CORPORATION GRANTS, NM
SOUTHERNWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY CARLSBAD, NM
TOWN OF FARMINGTON FARMINGTON, NM
SANDIA LABS ALBUQUERQUE, NM
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE WHITE SANDS, NM
UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO ALBUQUERQUE, NM
US POTASH CARLSBAD, NM
WARREN PETROLEUM CORPORATION HOBBS, NM
WALKER AIR FORCE BASE ROSWELL, NM
WARREN PETROLEUM CO. MONUMENT, NM
ZIA CORPORATION LOS 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.

The average mesothelioma settlement ranges from $100,000 to $3 million.

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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.

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 [email protected]

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.

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