What is a high-traffic border crossing?
A high-traffic border crossing is an area where thousands of vehicles cross the border between the United States and Mexico or Canada every day. Free trade between the United States and Mexico and Canada has grown rapidly since the North American Free Trade Agreement and has resulted in an increase in vehicle traffic crossing the border.
Heightened security measures also mean it takes longer for this traffic to get through border checkpoints, resulting in long lines of trucks and vehicles that sit idling. Most of the commercial trucks use diesel fuel. Air pollution from the traffic includes nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide.
The air pollution from traffic at border crossings causes significant human health concerns, as shown by studies along both the border with Mexico and with Canada. Most of the crossings are in heavily populated areas where people living nearby, as well as border crossing guards, can be affected by the poor air quality. Air pollution in these areas has been linked to an increase in children having respiratory distress and asthma, and even some infant deaths. The U.S. and Canada cooperate to examine the impact of air pollution on the health of children, and other populations, living along the border region.
Other environmental issues at high-traffic border crossings are polluted water runoff, fish and wildlife impacts, urban sprawl, excessive noise, and potential hazardous materials spills.
This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic. For more information on border regions, visit the Tox Town page on "Why study US Border Regions?"
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Border Traffic Leaving Children in Respiratory Distress (Commission for Environmental Cooperation)
Rural Border Health (Rural Assistance Center)
U.S.- Mexico Border 2020 (Environmental Protection Agency)
Chemicals at Border Crossings
Are these chemicals in MY community?
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Last Updated: November 17, 2015