Binational Center Hosts its Third Professional Workshop: Environmental Sciences and Toxicology: The Lagunera Region

Nov. 9, 2006

The US-Mexico Binational Center for Environmental Sciences and Toxicology (Binational Center) hosted its fourth Professional Workshop on November 13-15, 2006. The workshop entitled: “Environmental Sciences and Toxicology: The Lagunera Region Workshop” was held in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico.


The mission of the Binational Center is to provide and support environmental science and toxicology training, research, and policy development as well as facilitate a binational dialogue between investigators and stakeholders concerning risk assessment and remediation of hazardous environmental contaminants that are prevalent in the Border region.

To ensure and promote outreach and information exchange within and beyond our NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP) and partners in Mexico, specialized workshops are held in collaboration with the eleven different partnering institutions in Mexico.  These workshops target graduate students, environmental professionals, and university faculty interested in topics ranging from bioremediation of environmental contaminants to the impacts of heavy metals on children.

The workshop lectures took place at the Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Juarez del Estado de Durango, and the University Hospital, Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila, Torreon. Approximately 100 participants attended throughout the three-day workshop. The table below shows the diversity of presenters and lecture topics.

Dr. Walt Klimecki, The University of Arizona (UA)
Dr. Arnulfo Albores, Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politecnico (CINVESTAV)
Dr. Patricia Ostrosky, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)
Chemical Carcinogenesis
Dr. Mariano Cebrian, CINVESTAV
Arsenic and Cancer
Dr. Clark Lantz, UA
Introduction to Lung Toxicology
Dr. Emma Calderon, CINVESTAV
Dr. Raquel Goytia, Universidad Juarez del Estado de Durango
Metal Immunotoxicology
Dr. Lourdes Guerrero, CINVESTAV
Introduction to Epidemiology
Dr. Walt Klimecki, UA
Genetic Epidemiology
Dr. Lizbeth Lopez Carrillo, Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica
Environmental Epidemiology
Dr. Rogelio Recio,  Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila, Torreon
Epidemiology PCB
Ing. Amalia Ortega,  Industrias Peñoles, S.A. de C.V.
Remediation at Peñoles
Dr. Jim A. Field, UA
Bioremediation of Metals
Dr. Refugio Rodriguez, CINVESTAV
Bioremediation of Pesticides
Dr. Marcia Morales, UNAM
Lic. Marcela Martinez Lara,  CONACyT and Dr. Mariano Cebrian,  CINVESTAV

Due to the scientific caliber of the presentations, the audience was introduced to innovative field and laboratory techniques and left the workshop motivated with new applicable skills. Simultaneously, new collaborative opportunities arose, particularly between UA investigators and:

  • Met-Mex Peñoles (a Mexican smelter)
  • Local non-governmental women’s organization

On the third day of the workshop,a special session was held on grantmanship to teach regional Lagunera scientists how to apply for research funds. A special guest from CONACyT (Mexico’s National Science Foundation) gave the main presentation.These potential partnerships could lead to future bioremediation demonstration sites, which will demonstrate the strength of collaborative research and implementation.

The workshop included a tour of the largest smelter complex in Latin America, Met-Mex Peñoles, located in Torreon. The tour included a visit of the facilities at the smelter as well as a visit to a:

  • Contaminated site where remediation of lead in soil has been successfully conducted
  • Clinic set up to treat children with high levels of lead in blood

Based on the tour, University of Arizona investigator’s recognized that Met-Mex Peñoles has a “gold-mine” of data on lead in children, making them an interesting partner for research.

An additional tour was made of the laboratory facilities of the Department of Environmental Health, Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila. The laboratory facilities at this Department were extremely impressive. The Department of Environmental Health has sophisticated equipment to measure organics (GC-MS) and heavy metals (ICP-MS). Additionally, the Department has a modern genetic laboratory. The University of Arizona PI’s unanimously recognized that this Department would make an excellent partner for collaborative research.

The NIEHS SBRP, U.S.-Mexico Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships (TIES) program and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and CONACyT provided funding for this workshop.