Environmental Context

Regional Issues of Concern

The University of Arizona is located in the Southern Arizona, approximately 75 miles from the U.S.-Mexcio Border.  There are several critical environmental issues and contributing factors that have been identified.

1. Environmental contaminants of Southern Arizona, Northern Mexico, and the Border 

region:

  • Arsenic, heavy metals, and chlorinated solvents in groundwater

  • Heavy metals and particulate matter from abandoned mine and mill tailing piles

  • Heavy metals and solvents from microelectronics and other industries

  • Pesticide residues from medium to large scale agricultural fields

2. Disadvantaged populations living in these areas have a high exposure to environmental contaminants.  As a result, they come into contact with a wide variety of pollutants in soil, air, and water that  are potentially linked to increased incidences of health problems, especially among children.  

3. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) increased economic and trade activity between the U.S. and Mexico in addition to citizen concerns regarding environmental health and hazardous waste pollution. Mass migration to the Border region has outstripped the capacity of local municipalities to provide adequate housing, water, sanitation, and basic health services.

4.  Most of the time, citizens living in the Border region have too little knowledge and too few resources to adequately protect themselves from the mounting environmental threats.  

5.  The acute shortage of trained people to initiate, let alone operate, environmental facilities in the Border has been identified as the major stumbling block to development.  Across the board, there is a need for more professionals with strong environmental and public health backgrounds.

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