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CLU-IN Studio
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Collaborative Research on Environmental Toxicants in Rapidly Developing Settlements of the U.S.-Mexico Border
Sponsored by: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Superfund Basic Research Program
Original Time/Date of Presentation:

September 16, 2009, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, EDT (18:00-19:00 GMT)

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Presentation Overview:

This project aims to improve environmental public health in the San Diego-Tijuana city-region. The objective is twofold: (1) develop new watershed-based strategies/models that can help the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) address Global Environmental Health (GEH), and (2) share the science and technology contributions of UCSD's Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP) with urban-regional planning scholars, educators and professionals who are struggling to better understand how problems of the built environment, land use and pollution impact environmental public health. The geographic unit of analysis is Los Laureles Canyon-a representative sub-basin of the Tijuana River Watershed spanning the US-Mexico border. More than 80,000 people live in the colonias of Los Laureles Canyon on the Mexican side of the border. Colonias are large irregular human settlements that lack many basic urban services. Accelerated population growth in Los Laureles Canyon has led to chronic problems of sediment, trash and hazardous waste flows into the U.S. coming from Mexico. The inadequate management of sewage, hazardous substances and solid wastes poses chronic risks of exposure to pathogens and environmental toxicants to communities on both sides of the border. Two specific questions motivate this effort: (1) What is the degree of contamination by Superfund toxicants (PAHs, PCBs and Dioxins and heavy metals) in the soils and sediments of Los Laureles Canyon? and (2) What factors can be used to predict the spatial distribution of contaminants at the sub-watershed and watershed scale? The collection and analysis of these data will help us understand what natural, built environment and human activity factors along the Mexican side of the Tijuana River Watershed contribute to presence/distribution of Superfund chemicals in soil and sediments. In turn, this effort will help identify and prioritize ecological and human health risks in the City of Tijuana and in the binational Tijuana River Watershed, while informing the selection of strategies to reduce or eliminate present and future exposure(s) to Superfund chemicals on both sides of the border. This effort is enabling us to: 1) work with binational stakeholders in an unprecedented crossborder data collection effort focused on Superfund toxicants, 2) relate the environmental health sciences to urban planning and the multiple stressors and risk factors facing fast-growing low income human settlements along the U.S.-Mexico border, and 3) improve our capacity for science communication.

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