Building Human Capital in the U.S. - Mexico Border Region and Mexico; Specialized Workshop: Environmental Fate, Remediation and Health Effects of Heavy Metals and Arsenic in the Sonora/Arizona Border Region

The U.S.-Mexico Binational Center for Environmental Sciences and Toxicology (Binational Center) is dedicated to promoting stakeholder outreach and information exchange within and beyond the Binational Center and Superfund Basic Research Program investigations. To ensure and promote outreach and information exchange between Superfund and our partners in Mexico, specialized Workshops are held in collaboration with the ten different partnering institutions in Mexico. For more information regarding the Binational Center’s outreach efforts, please visit,







The most recent Specialized Workshop took place from December 7th through 9th, 2005 in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.  The title of the workshop was Environmental Fate, Remediation and Health Effects of Heavy Metals and Arsenic in the Sonora/Arizona Border Region. The workshop was made possible by our faculty partners from the University of Sonora (Universidad de Sonora) and the Technological Institute of Sonora (Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora).  The workshop lectures took place at the Department of Medicine auditorium and had a total of 150 attendees over the two day meeting.  The table below shows the presenters and their lecture topic.

Table 1Environmental Fate, Remediation and Health Effects of Heavy Metals and Arsenic in the Sonora/Arizona Border RegionPresenters

Dr. Diana Meza
Heavy Metals in the Environment: An Overview of the Sonora Basin
Dr. Oscar Talavera
Impacts of Heavy Metals from Mining Suites
Dr. Wendell Ela
Removal of Arsenic from Drinking Water
Ms. Irail Cortinas
Biological Mobilization of Arsenic in Bioreactors
Dr. Jim Field/Dr. Reyes Sierra
Bioremediation of Heavy Metals
Mr. Victor Gamez
Removal of Heavy Metals in a Bioreactor
Dr. Walt Klimecki
Founder Genetic Mutations
Dr. Mercedes Meza
Urinary Arsenic from Low Level Exposure
Dr. Patricia Ostrosky
Genotoxicology of Arsenic
Dr. Clark Lantz
Toxicology of Uranium
Dr. Gonzalo Garcia Vargas
Toxicology of Lead and Arsenic in children
Dr. Lizbeth Lopez
Environmental Exposure of DDT and Breast Cancer

A total of seven different partnering Mexican institutions were represented and the topics encompassed environmental engineering and environmental toxicology.  Two of the presenters were U.S. AID Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships (TIES) students from the University of Arizona. Their talks served to inspire their peers (i.e. undergraduate and graduate students) in regards to pursuing research topics and/or professional fellowships.  Specifically, one of the student presenters was originally from Hermosillo, and as a result had his school peers and family members attend the workshop lectures.   This particular example demonstrates the direct influence that such workshops can have on local stakeholders.

Table 2Environmental Fate, Remediation and Health Effects of Heavy Metals and Arsenic in the Sonora/Arizona Border RegionAttendees

Federal and state governmental agencies
Academic institutions
National Commission of Water
(Comisión Nacional del Agua)
University of Sonora (Universidad de Sonora)
Hermosillo City Water (Agua de Hermosillo)
 Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora
Public Health State Laboratory (Laboratorio Estatal de Salud Publica)
University of Arizona (Universidad de Arizona)
Investigation Center for Nutrition and Development (Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo)
National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
Commission for Potable Water and Infrastructure for the State of Sonora (Comisión de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado del Estado de Sonora)
University of Guadalajara (Universidad de Guadalajara)
Civil Protection for the State of Sonora (Protección Civil del Estado de Sonora)
National Polytechnic Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional)
University of Guerrero (Universidad de Guerrero)
University of Juarez in Torreon (Universidad Juárez en Torreón)
In addition, two representatives from a nongovernmental organization/independent consultant were also present.

The lectures presented by the speakers were well received by the entire audience.  The diverse audience background (e.g. university faculty, undergraduate/graduate students, and laboratory technician) proved to emphasize the need for a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to the current issues and future work.  By the end of the workshop, there was much enthusiasm from both the presenters and audience, which clearly indicated that more information sharing is needed to close the gap between research endeavors and on-site action.

Funding for this workshop was provided by the NIEHS SBRP, National Science Foundation and U.S.-Mexico Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships (TIES) program.