Many of the diverse, fragile ecosystems of the United States–Mexican border region are reaching unsustainable levels because of rapid population growth and changes in land use. Water shortages and pollution, poor air quality, increased soil salinities, and pesticides and heavy metal contaminants are some of the many stressors that are degrading the quality of life in the Borderlands. Lack of water treatment and wastewater infrastructure on both sides of the United States–Mexican border contributes to elevated rates of various communicable diseases most commonly found in developing countries: tuberculosis, intestinal infections, and hepatitis. Chronic diseases (diabetes, cancer, and heart disease) also prevail at high rates along the border, resembling trends observed in developed countries. In addition, the subtropical climate of the Borderlands is particularly suited for vectors of tropical diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.
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Challenge theme 3: protecting the environment and safeguarding human health: Chapter 5 in United States--Mexican Borderlands--facing tomorrow’s challenges through USGS science