This page is intended to educate and inform the public on PFAS and contamination they have caused in New Mexico.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used for a large number of purposes since the 1950s.
PFAS have been used in food packaging, cleaning products, stain resistant carpet treatments, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam, among other products.
Due to the widespread use of PFAS and the fact that they bioaccumulate, they are found in the bodies of people and animals all over the world.
The health effects of these emerging contaminants are still being studied, but research has indicated that some PFAS may affect reproductive health, increase the risk of some cancers, affect childhood development, increase cholesterol levels, affect the immune system, and interfere with the body’s hormones.
The U.S. Air Force used a firefighting foam containing PFAS starting in the 1970s. As a result, contamination of groundwater and drinking water in several states has been recently discovered as part of an Air Force-wide inspection of installations for potential PFAS contamination.
PFAS in New Mexico
In New Mexico, PFAS were discovered in groundwater at and around Cannon Air Force Base and Holloman Air Force Base, which the state was informed of in 2018.
The Air Force is providing bottled water to those whose drinking water has been affected pursuant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for two PFAS chemicals (PFOS and PFOA).
In March 2019, the New Mexico Environment Department, in conjunction with the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General, filed suit against the Air Force for its lack of action to address the contamination. That litigation is pending.
In the interim, the New Mexico Environment Department, in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health, tested dozens of private water wells within a four-mile radius of each base on a voluntary basis. The results of these testing efforts are available in the “Data” tab.
|If you are a private well owner in the area of Cannon or Holloman Air Force bases and would like your water tested for PFAS, please contact the New Mexico Department of Health at 505-827-0006.|
NMED and Department of Health’s testing of public drinking water systems in the area have not shown PFOS and PFOA in excess of the EPA health advisory but there were some low-level detections of other PFAS chemicals.
PFAS contamination in New Mexico is one of the New Mexico Environment Department’s top priorities, as is the protection of human health and the environment.
We will continue to use science to inform our decisions going forward and take whatever options available to hold the Air Force accountable.
Thank you to everyone who attended the April 29 public meeting in Clovis
In case you missed it, presentations from the meeting can be viewed here:
In the news
May 9, 2019 – N.M. Department of Health: High levels of perfluorinated compounds in Lake Holloman
March 5, 2019 – State sues Air Force over PFAS contamination at Cannon, Holloman | Complaint
December 4, 2018 – NMED Issues Notice of Violation to USAF for Groundwater Contamination