Public Health New Mexico

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project provides in-depth, investigative and continuous coverage of public health in New Mexico, with an emphasis on poverty. For all articles and web exclusive content, go to 

Rashad Mahmood-Public Health New Mexico

A plume of toxic dry cleaning chemicals has been moving through Albuquerque's groundwater for at least two decades. At 35 feet deep and at least a mile and a half long, it's closer to the surface and possibly covers more distance than the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill. And the chemicals in the groundwater, called TCE and PCE, cause cancer, birth defects and neurological problems. 

UNM To House Population Health College

Oct 3, 2015
suny_cortland via Flickr / Creative Commons License


New Mexico will be home to the nation's first population health doctoral program. The new program was inspired by the Affordable Care Act to help grow the workforce for our healthcare system. The college will feature a multi-disciplinary degree program that aims to train the students who will provide healthcare services. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

FARMINGTON, N.M.—Nationwide, the number of people who die in jail is rising. Here in New Mexico, three deaths in three months in San Juan County’s lockup caught the attention of attorneys and the local newspaper

Ed Williams

Finding employment can be a challenge for anyone entering the job market. For people with disabilities, those challenges can be even greater—the unemployment rate for that group is twice that of the overall population.

Ed Williams

When state environment workers were taking groundwater samples in downtown Albuquerque back in the 1990s, they discovered a large plume of a solvent called trichloroethylene, or TCE—a toxic chemical that causes cancer and birth defects—just 35 feet below the ground. 

Grandparents Filling The Family Void

Sep 18, 2015
FeeLoona via Pixabay / Creative Commons License

In New Mexico lots of grandparents raise their grandkids – more than 70,000 children under the age of 18 here live with family other than their parents.

There are fewer young people trying to commit suicide in New Mexico, according to the state Department of Health. Statewide rates of attempted suicide among school kids dropped 35 percent between 2003 and 2013.

Elizabeth McKenzie

Irrigation water still isn’t flowing from the San Juan River to some farms on the Navajo Nation. Two chapters voted to keep ditches shut off after the Gold King Mine spill last month. But Navajo folks around the state are reaching out to help farmers and ranchers there. 

Andrew AIRNM via flickr


A coalition of businesses in New Mexico and Arizona are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over a recent rule extending clean water protections across the country. 

i_spec via Compfight CC

An audit released today found weaknesses and deficiencies when it comes to funding requirements for special education. 

@BeWellNM on Twitter

This week Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it will be pulling out of the state health insurance exchange in January. President Kurt Shipley says the company lost over $19 million in New Mexico this year and is leaving, because state officials denied its request for a 51 percent rate increase.  

Ed Williams

New Mexico has a nursing problem. In recent years some hospitals have had to close beds because there weren’t enough nurses to staff them. And as more people enroll in health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the need for nurses is growing even faster.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE 8/25 at 12:30 p.m.: President Russell Begaye is awaiting soil and sediment samples from the Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency before deciding whether to remove restrictions on irrigation from the San Juan River, according to spokesperson Mihio Manus. Begaye, a farmer himself who's relied on the river, met with farmers in Shiprock on Thursday, Aug. 20. 


malglam via CC

KUNM Call In Show 8/27 8a

Advocates around the state are working to help new moms who want to breastfeed make it happen. They’re embarking on campaigns to normalize breastfeeding and inform women of their rights at work.

Are hospitals helping women start the process? Are New Mexico employers offering their workers clean, private spaces to pump milk? Did you or anyone you know ever face disapproval or judgment for nursing in public? Are businesses friendly to breastfeeding moms?

Ed Williams

The Obama Administration recently proposed new standards that would reduce methane emissions from natural gas operations across the country, and environmental advocates say the new rules could have some health benefits for people living near gas wells.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill caused the shut down of San Juan River irrigation to farms on the Navajo Nation. Emergency stopgap measures aren’t quite panning out. 

Bernalillo County

Bernalillo County has extended the public comment period for a controversial road project in an industrial area south of Albuquerque. 

The $19 million Sunport Blvd. extension project is intended to make commuting easier and bring more business development to the South Valley - that’s according to Bernalillo County. But people in a nearby neighborhood say they didn’t have a seat at the table while the plans were being made.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Update Aug. 18, 11:30 a.m.: The EPA said the water for the Navajo Nation came from nearby Bloomfield and met state and federal quality standards. The trucks came from a division of an Aztec, N.M.-based company, Triple S Trucking, that moves non-potable water. The company also hauls fluids to and from oil fields. KUNM awaits comment from Triple S. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Farmers near the San Juan are frustrated by the lack of data from the Environmental Protection Agency after pollutants were released from the Gold King Mine more than a week ago. 

Toxins traveling through the Animas flowed into New Mexico’s San Juan, but it’s not yet known exactly what’s in the river on the Navajo Nation or at what concentrations. That’s at the root of a lot of worry for farmers in Shiprock, who fear the worst for their crops.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE, Friday, Aug. 14, 5 p.m.: The EPA says testing results from the Navajo Nation should be released on Saturday.   

Rita Daniels

KUNM Call In Show 8/13 8a:

Governor Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency after the Environmental Protection Agency caused a massive spill of mine waste that has contaminated rivers in New Mexico and Colorado. We'll take a look at the Gold King Mine Spill: what does the pollution mean for communities, wildlife, and the watershed? 

Rita Daniels / KUNM

State officials met with the Navajo Nation Council on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about mine waste contamination of the San Juan River flowing through tribal land. New Mexico's top environment official had harsh words about the EPA’s lack of transparency and support. 

Rita Daniels / KUNM

The Navajo Nation Council met on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about impacts from the more than 3-million-gallon toxic spill into the Animas River. "This is an assault on our way of life," said Delegate Amber Crotty. "This is an assault on core of who we are as Diné people."

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Moms and hospitals around the state are working to figure out what can be done to support breastfeeding. It’s all about re-normalizing an ancient and intimate exchange of nutrition in the United States today.   

Ed Williams

The idea to build a road connecting the Sunport with Rio Bravo Blvd started back in the late 1980s. But county planners back then ran into a roadblock: the street would need to cut through the South Valley Superfund site just west of I-25 where the Environmental Protection Agency was busy cleaning up groundwater contamination from weapons factories that used to be there.

Daneil Pienado via CC

It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and proponents are looking at how New Mexico treats new mothers.

Bernalillo County

Bernalillo County is preparing for the construction of a highway interchange connecting the Sunport to Broadway Blvd. 

The road project has been in the works for years but is just now nearing the end of the planning process. The county says the road will improve access to the South Valley from the airport, and hopes it will spur more business development in the area and make commuting easier for people in the San Jose neighborhood. via CC

Almost a quarter of the people in New Mexico rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—about 448,000. And the Human Services Department is once again calling for more work search and volunteer hours or job training for recipients. Opponents say the rule changes are confusing.

Wolfram Burner via Compfight CC

  While students wait for the University of New Mexico to investigate their claims of sexual assault, sometimes their grades suffer, and the long process can be consuming. The holdup might be because civil rights investigators at UNM only recently had sexual assault cases added to their workload.   

Ed Williams

On Monday, the governor announced a two-week program offering free vaccinations to children before school starts.

 The Department of Health will run the program with money from the state’s general fund to cover vaccinations for uninsured children.