Environmental risks impact human health and have important public health implications and consequences. These include exposure to contaminants in water people drink, food people eat, and air people breathe. They are impacted by factors such as education, income, substance abuse, and genetic pre-disposition. The NM APPLETREE (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR’s) Partnership to Promote Local Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposure) Program was established in 2020, with funding from ATSDR to further build the capacity of the Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau (EHEB) to address these. EHEB has worked on these issues and monitoring potential health outcomes for over 20 years. The bureau is housed within the Epidemiology and Response Division of the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). NM APPLETREE has strong partnerships with other environmental health and public health surveillance programs within NMDOH.
Beyond NMDOH, NM APPLTREE has close partnerships with the New Mexico Environment Department’s Drinking Water Quality Bureau and Groundwater Bureaus, the University of New Mexico, the Poison and Drug Information Center, and local government agencies. These partnerships are essential to reduce (or prevent) the public’s exposure to environmental hazards and toxic exposures and therefore reduce or potentially prevent associated adverse health outcomes. We will continue to strengthen and expand partnerships and further build capacity to support communities’ concerns regarding potential exposures to environmental hazards. We strive to help educate communities, partners, and policy makers about environmental health risks and protective measures. We will focus on alleviating health disparities by using health equity concepts to guide our work and aiming to support communities who are disproportionately impacted by environmental and social factors.