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, 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.
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.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Border Traffic Leaving Children in Respiratory Distress (Commission for Environmental Cooperation)
Environmental Health (Rural Assistance Center)
US Border Crossings. PubMed/MEDLINE - Journal articles (National Library of Medicine)
US-Mexico Border Environmental Health: Diesel Exposure (National Center for Environmental Health)
Chemicals at Border Crossings
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Volatile Organic Compounds
Last Updated: November 20, 2008