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Environmental Health & Justice

Environmental health addresses the interrelationship between human health and the environment, and strives to improve the quality of both the natural and built environment. Environmental justice is the understanding that all racial, ethnic, and income groups have the right to equal treatment and protection under environmental statutes, regulations and practices, and that those policies should be consciously designed to protect human health and reduce disparities within and among communities.


Over the past several years NMPHA has brought to the membership information and resources regarding the role of public health in climate change and it has become increasingly apparent that climate change is a major public health issue.  

In 2005 the Annual NMPHA conference theme was Climate Change.   After the conference a this document was produced and is the synthesis of a series of workshops conducted at the the April 2005 annual conference held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM. The opinions and recommendations expressed are those of the membership of NMPHA and meeting attendees. The document was reviewed at the 2006 NMPHA Annual Meeting.

Protecting Public Health in Response to Climate Change.pdf

Also, during the 2005 a global warming resolution was reviewed and voted on by NMPHA conference attendees.  

NMPHA Global Warming Resolution.pdf


Environmental Racism

The definition of environmental racism is defined as the placement of hazardous materials in areas of high minority individuals or economically destitute populations. Native American lands have been a place where high levels of radioactive materials have been dumped. Hispanic populations are more likely to live near hazardous landfill sites, and African American populations are more likely to live near industrial facilities and uncontrolled toxic waste sites.

In New Mexico, disproportionate dumping, storing, and producing hazardous materials has caused toxic air, land and water which have increased the risk of health problems and shorter life spans.  In 2005, the President of the Navajo Nation, Joe Shirley, Jr., signed the DinĂ© Natural Resources Protection Act which banned uranium mining and processing on Navajo land.  In October 2011, NMPHA was represented by Mallery Downs, NMPHA Co-President Elect, at an EPA meeting on environmental justice.  The statement provided to EPA is below and states that all uranium mining should be banned to protect the health of New Mexicans.  The EPA 2014 Environmental Justice Plan is also posted below.



It is the public health association’s responsibility to address environmental justice and health. The Association’s Policy Committee will be drafting and presenting a memorial on Environmental Racism is a Public Health Crisis at the 2020 legislative session. This memorial recognizes one of the key factors that influence health outcomes is the environment, acknowledges major health disparities in New Mexican communities, and proposes that the state assess the environmental and health impact of polluting industries, potential nuclear waste storage facilities, lack of infrastructure and the need for water as a basic human right.

Nuclear Colonialism: Indigenous opposition grows against proposal for nation’s largest nuclear storage facility in NM

Water Crisis

Many Americans would be surprised to learn that 1.6 million people in the United States still lack access to complete plumbing facilities. Poor quality water access predominantly affects vulnerable groups like communities of color, tribal communities, immigrants, and extremely low-income people in rural areas (US Water Alliance & DigDeep).

On the Navajo Nation, 40 percent of people lack access to running water. This CBS aired video summarizes the present needs of Navajo communities in New Mexico and company that is working on community generated solutions.  For more information, watch this ABC News video about electricity in Navajo Nation and read the UN's policy of water being a "basic human right."


In 2012 NMPHA responded to a request from NMPHA members to provide a letter in support of the City of Albuquerque to deny a modification to an air permit for industry in the Mountain View community.  The letter from NMPHA and the reply from the City are below.  The permit was granted.

Air Quality ltr for San Jose.doc

EDH Response Permit _0047-M2.pdf

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