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Interdisciplinary science in support of environmental health along the United States-Mexico border

September 1, 2006

The diverse, fragile ecosystems of the borderlands have been pushed beyond sustainable levels due to rapid population growth and land-use changes. Water shortages and pollution, poor air quality, increased soil salinities, residual pesticides and heavy metal contaminants are some of the many stressors that are degrading the quality of life in the borderlands. The relationship between human health and environmental quality challenges public officials, medical professionals, and resource managers on both sides of the border in their efforts to provide for and maintain healthy communities. To help understand the relationship between environmental and human health, the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Border Environmental Health Initiative (BEHI) created an Internet Map Service (IMS) with binational georeferenced data. The goal is to have seamless integration of borderwide datasets at regional and local scales that can lend understanding of the linkages between the condition of the physical environment and public health issues.