This paper presents an overview of pollution issues affecting the Mexico-US border region, and briefly traces the development of the international legal framework which covers Mexico-US border relations on environmental issues. Examples from different border areas are used to illustrate surface water, groundwater, air pollution, and hazardous waste problems associated with the rapid growth and industrialization of areas along the border. Some of the specific issues presented include the Tijuana-San Diego sewage problem, the New River toxic discharges, Nogales Wash groundwater pollution, air pollution in Cd. Juarez-El Paso, and the Alco-Pacifico lead contamination case in Tijuana, B.C. Additional research to characterize the extent of border area pollution and resultant ecological impacts is fundamental in the development of binational policies to deal with these problems. Another priority need is the application of risk assessment models, which will help policy makers on both sides of the border to coordinate efforts and allocate resources to solve this crisis. Immediate attention should be directed toward acquiring information necessary to evaluate the impacts of border-area pollution on natural ecosystems.
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