Toxic sewage from Tijuana is causing a "public health crisis" on the border: report

US Mexico Border Tijuana Pacific Ocean Mario Tama/Getty Images
US Mexico Border Tijuana Pacific Ocean Mario Tama/Getty Images

A recent report by San Diego State University (SDSU) details a growing issue at the US-Mexico border: Untreated sewage and other unhygienic pollution is flowing from Mexico into the United States.

Describing this development as a "public health crisis," SDSU's School of Public Health describes how "untreated sewage, industrial waste and urban run-off" have severely contaminated the Tijuana River and Estuary (TJRE). Unfortunately for Americans, the TRJE flows directly into the Pacific Ocean, where it washes the shores of the small California city of Imperial Beach. Beyond that, the Tijuana River flows for 120 miles from Mexico into the United States, putting at risk all of the populations along its edges. The International Boundary and Water Commission estimates that 100 billion gallons of pollutants have been dumped into this waterway over the last five years.

The scientists who worked on the SDSU report discovered a wide range of dangerous bacteria and viruses in the water. These included HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, Streptococcus, Listeria, Vibrio, Salmonella and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as well as various pathogens (such as E. coli and Legionella) with antibiotic-resistant genes. The water also included unsafe amounts of arsenic and cadmium, as well as industrial chemicals that are not allowed to be discharged in California.

"South San Diego County is in a total state of emergency related to transboundary pollution, and this is a public health ticking time bomb," Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre told ABC News. "We are living in conditions that nobody in this great nation should be living in."