New Mexico
Environment Department

Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)

Air Quality Bureau

Asbestos

Asbestos is a common fibrous rock found worldwide which has been used in various products for over 4500 years. It has been used in over 3000 different products such as textiles, paper, ropes, wicks, stoves, filters, floor tiles, roofing shingles, clutch facings, water pipe, cements, fillers, felt, fireproof clothing, gaskets, battery boxes, clapboard, wallboard, fire doors, fire curtains, insulation, brake linings, etc.

Asbestos may be found almost everywhere. Almost everyone is exposed to asbestos, in some form and to some degree, every day. Asbestos containing construction materials were used throughout the nation and naturally occurring asbestos has been reported in at least sixteen different New Mexican mining districts. Asbestos is common in the state, but the presence of asbestos may not be a problem provided that it is not disturbed and fibers are not released into the air. Adverse health effects associated with asbestos exposure have been extensively studied for many years. These studies and epidemiological investigations have demonstrated that breathing asbestos dust (fibers) and/or ingesting asbestos is a health hazard. Primary diseases associated with the inhalation of asbestos fibers are asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revised the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) to include asbestos. The New Mexico State Legislature adopted the NESHAP regulations (20 NMAC 2.78) for asbestos control in New Mexico.

NESHAP requirements apply to both the facility owner and to the contractor and states that renovation and/or demolition notices be submitted to the Air Quality Bureau when certain conditions are met. Violators may be subject to civil action in district court for appropriate relief, including temporary or permanent injunction, pursuant to the New Mexico Air Quality Control Act Section 74-2-12, NMSA 1978 and/or the assessment of civil penalties of up to $15,000 per violation for each day of noncompliance, pursuant to the same section. Frequently asked questions about the regulations are available here.

Generally, AQB must be notified:

  • For all demolitions, whether asbestos is present or not.
    • Please note that for all demolitions, you must include an asbestos survey conducted by a qualified professional. The survey must demonstrate that all potential asbestos containing materials at the facility have been tested. The survey must be conducted within three years of the start of the asbestos removal.
  • For renovations when the quantity of Regulated Asbestos Containing Material is greater than 260 linear feet, 160 square feet or 35 cubic feet.

Notification forms for asbestos are listed here:

Employers can contact the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) of the Environment Department for OSHA regulations pertaining to the handling of asbestos at (505) 476-8720.

All asbestos containing waste must be deposited at a waste disposal site that is operated in accordance with 40 CFR 61.154. Call the Solid Waste Bureau at 505-827-0197 or the Asbestos Hotline for current information regarding which landfills are allowed to accept asbestos. The Solid Waste Bureau also administers regulations pertaining to asbestos disposal.

All contractors who remove asbestos materials must be licensed by the New Mexico Construction Industries Division, which can be called at (505) 476-4700.