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 

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.

Bothering Birds via Compfight CC

Albuquerque’s Environment Department has denied the permit for a company to build a hot-mix asphalt plant near a wildlife refuge in the South Valley.

The department was slated to hold hearings about the plant, but before those were set, found that Albuquerque Asphalt’s plan could generate contaminant levels that exceed air quality standards.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The traditional healing method known as curanderismo has been passed down through generations in this region, and practitioners from Mexico and around the state gathered Wednesday on the University of New Mexico campus.

Ed Williams

During the Cold War, the Navajo Nation found itself in the middle of a uranium mining boom. Today, more than 500 mines on the reservation are shut down or abandoned—but the pollution they left behind is still very much there. 

Wikimedia Commons via CC

More than one in five New Mexicans is on food stamps—that’s almost half a million people. Advocates are concerned that coming changes could force people off the federally funded program, and many religious folks are speaking out against the possible new rules. Faith leaders don’t see feeding the hungry as a partisan issue but rather as a basic tenet of their faith.  

Washington and Jefferson College

People in Albuquerque are spending more of their paycheck​s​ on rent than ​people in places like New York ​and​ San Francisco​. We'll look at why people in the Duke City, and in parts of northern New Mexico, are spending so much on housing. ​Do you spend a large chunk of your ​paycheck​ on ​rent​?​ ​How does this impact your household budget? We'd like to hear from you! 

Jan Marlyn Reesman via Flickr

An environmental watchdog group is criticizing a decision by the state of New Mexico to join a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. The suit claims the EPA overreached its authority with a new rule that gives more streams and tributaries federal pollution protection.

smgcee via CC

New Mexico’s auditor identified more than $4.5 billion in unspent state funds earlier this year. Now a national agency wants to see some of that money go to a program for people with disabilities.

It’s known as the DD Waiver, and it’s a program that helps folks with developmental disabilities get services. But the waiting list is up to 10 years long.

Sheila Stephenson

Mental health care and substance abuse treatment here has been in flux since Medicaid payments to providers were frozen in 2013. And two counselors are striking out on their own in a rural part of the state.

Holtzman via Flickr / Creative Commons License

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich announced Monday that he will propose legislation to address poverty across multiple generations. 


If you are a member of the Navajo Nation with respiratory problems and you live near the Four Corners Power Plant, you may have more access to health care soon.

Images of Money via CC

Some New Mexicans may have been dropped by mistake from a federal program that aims to help people pay their phone bills.

Library of Congress via CC

Albuquerque’s City Council will consider an ordinance in August aimed at helping part-time workers, but small business owners and employers say it’s unrealistic. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Around the country, pedestrian deaths are most common in low-income areas. And New Mexico has had the highest average rate of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the last few years, according to the CDC. 

Looking Within Report

Residents of McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico have long complained of health problems associated with uranium mining. A new study looks at the health impacts the uranium mining industry may have caused there.

Nearly 100 of the 520 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land are in McKinley County. That area is also home to the decades-old Church Rock Tailings Spill, one of the worst radioactive disasters in American history.

Bernalillo County rejected the application this week of a Florida company, Humic Growth Solutions, that wants to build a fertilizer plant next to a residential neighborhood south of Albuquerque.  

Zoning Administrator Juanita Garcia issued her decision Tuesday, saying the information the company provided in its application was too vague, and did not address the health and safety concerns of people living nearby.


KUNM Call In Show 6/18 8a: 

There are well over 100 abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico, and most of them are on Navajo land. Many communities are still dealing with the health and environmental consequences of uranium contamination from mines that haven’t been cleaned up.

What has uranium mining meant for your community? What should the state, tribal and federal governments be doing to fix the problem?

We’ll be asking those questions this week and we'd like to hear from you! Email, post comments online or call in live during the show.  

Wikimedia via CC

Women looking to vaccinate themselves against a cancer-causing virus usually have to take three trips to the doctor’s office. But researchers are looking into more efficient ways of delivering protection.

Two types of the sexually transmitted infection HPV, or human papillomavirus, cause three quarters of all cervical cancers. And a research paper published this month shows that it may only take a single dose of vaccine to prevent them.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Sudden cardiac arrest hits hundreds of thousands of people of all around the country, and it affects folks of all-ages, even those with no other illnesses or obvious symptoms. A new program in the state is training people to know what to do when it happens.