An International Success: The U.S. – Mexico Binational Center for Environmental Sciences and Toxicology Inaugural Ceremony and Global Environmental Health Workshop

March 28, 2007

The U.S.-Mexico Binational Center for Environmental Sciences and Toxicology (Binational Center) at the University of Arizona kicked off its official inauguration with a gala opening ceremony and two-day Global Environmental Health Workshop, held March 12-14, 2007 in Tucson, Arizona.

Directly across the border from the Southwestern United States there are populations exposed to high levels of environmental contaminants. Mexico is a country with acute and chronic environmental health threats due to: 1) uncontrolled disposal of hazardous and municipal wastes; 2) a relatively high level of metal mining and processing; 3) high levels of arsenic and other natural contaminants in the drinking water of the semi-arid North; and 4) exposures to organic toxicants derived from agricultural, industrial and municipal sources.

The objective of the inaugural ceremony and workshop was to bring scientists from Superfund Basic Research Programs of various universities and their partners in Mexico together to:

  • Discuss the process of developing sustained partnerships and capacity building
  • Provide an opportunity to address pressing scientific questions affecting environmental health in the Border region
  • Present scientific talks and roundtable discussions regarding research and technology advances from both Superfund and Mexican research programs that can be applied to solving environmental and public health challenges in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region

A total of 143 participants from the U.S. and Mexico attended the ceremony and workshop. The audience and presenters were representatives from diverse groups such as academia, government, non-governmental organizations, citizens, and students. The workshop addressed international collaborations and investigations within environmental toxicology and engineering, and the interdisciplinary field of environmental science. The specific sessions were:

  • International Relations
    • Evolution of the U.S. - Mexico Binational Center: Support From Many Sources
    • Border 2012 U.S.-Mexico Border Program: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Bight-98: A Successful Binational Collaboration Program
    • Panel: Globalizing Environmental Health Research: The Do’s and Don’ts of Building Cyberinfrastructure for International Collaboration
  • Health Risk and Effects Research
    • Binational Environmental Health Studies - Bureaucracy and Benefits
    • Networks for Environmental Health in the U.S. - Mexico Border
    • Viral Water Quality, Indicators and Risk Assessment for Bathing in Coastal Waters: A Tale of Two Cities
    • Politics, Environment, History and Health: How the Journeys ofOur Ancestors Shape Translational Research Today
    • Priorities for U.S.-Mexico Collaborations in Health Studies
  • Remediation
    • Environmental Remediation of Contaminated Sites in Mexico
    • Bioremediation State-of-the-Art for Oxidized Contaminants
    • Environmental Biotechnology Applied to Wastewater Treatment in Mexico: Status, Perspectives and Challenges
    • Phytostabilization of Mine Tailings in Arid and Semi-Arid Environments
  • People of the Borderlands
    • Border Culture and Transnational Communities: Constraints and Opportunities
    • Social Justice and the U.S.- Mexico Border
    • Tribal Environmental Health along the U.S. - Mexico Border
    • Social Participation in Environmental Health Issues Along the U.S. – Mexico Border

In addition to the workshop, a high school environmental health photography competition was organized and exhibited.  The following students were selected, along with 10 Honorable Mentions: Ernie Somoza (First Place), Danielle Aguilar (Second Place), and Chelsea Cota (Third Place).  Winners were given a gift certificate to purchase items to help them further their interest in photography.

The workshop was coordinated in conjunction with and supported by:

  • Superfund Basic Research Programs
    • The University of Arizona
    • The University of California, San Diego
    • Texas A&M University
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences
  • Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología
  • Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional
  • National Science Foundation
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
    • Training, Internships, Exchanges, and Scholarships (TIES)
    • Higher Education for Development