Skip Navigation

Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
US Border Regions en español

Why study the US-Mexico border?
Why study the US-Canada border?

Why study the US-Mexico border???

The US-Mexico border region is defined as the area within 100 km (62 miles) on either side of the international border. This area spans approximately 2,000 miles and runs through the US states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California and the Mexican states of Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas. Twelve million people currently live in the border region, and the population is expected to grow to 24 million by 2025.

There are many climates represented in the border region and the landscape includes deserts, mountains, rivers, and wetlands. The border region environment is also defined by less desirable qualities including factories, traffic, power plants, unpaved roads, pesticide use, lack of running water, and inadequate waste and sewage disposal. All of these factors contribute to the pollution of water, air, and land and negatively impact human health on both sides of the border.

The seriousness of the environmental health issues on the US-Mexico border has been recognized by both the United States and Mexican governments. To address these concerns, the federal, state, and local governments in both countries have partnered to create the US-Mexico Border Environmental Program: Border 2012 which aims "to protect the environment and public health in the US-Mexico border region consistent with the principles of sustainable development."

The US-Mexico border scene has been selected for Tox Town to increase public awareness of the environmental health issues on the border and to provide resources on how the general public can reduce health risks caused by the environment.

For more detail:

Border 2012: Accomplishments Report (2010-2012) (Environmental Protection Agency)

Good Neighbor Environmental Board home page (Environmental Protection Agency)

Health (Border Legislative Conference)

North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation

Good Neighbor Environmental Board 15th Report: The Environmental, Economic and Health Status of Water Resources in the U.S.- Mexico Border Region (Environmental Protection Agency)

US-Mexico Binational Center for Environmental Studies and Toxicology (University of Arizona)

US-Mexico Border Environmental Program: Border 2020 (Environmental Protection Agency)

State programs:


Arizona Children's Environmental Health Program: Border (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality)

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality lists its resources under Border Programs.

Office of Border Health (Arizona Department of Health Services)


California-Baja California Border Environmental Program (California Environmental Protection Agency)

California Office of Binational Border Health (California Department of Health Services)

New Mexico

New Mexico Environment Department


Office of Border Health (Texas Department of State Health Services)

Why study the US-Canada border?

The United States and Canada share 5,500 miles of border, which includes Alaska. They also have one of the world's oldest and most effective environmental partnerships, with more than 30 government agreements between the two countries. Environmental agreements between the two countries address a number of issues, including clean air, high levels of certain toxic substances in the Great Lakes, movement of hazardous and municipal solid wastes between borders, and preparedness and response to environmental emergencies along the shared border.

Over the years, the Great Lakes have been polluted by a variety of heavy metals and chemicals that still persist today. The waters of the Great Lakes are monitored by the governments of both Canada and the US because the lakes are a source of drinking water, as well as a recreational spot for swimming and fishing. The US and Canada also cooperate to examine the impact of air pollution on the health of children, and other populations, living along the border region.

For more detail:

Canada - United States Border Air Quality Strategy (Health Canada)

Great Lakes Water Quality (United Nations Environment Programme)

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (Environmental Protection Agency)

EPA Collaboration with Canada (Environmental Protection Agency)

Last updated: April 7, 2016

Interactive Graphic Neighborhoods City Farm Town US Border Regions Port US Southwest