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Land and Resources, Environmental Issues

northern frontier, industrial emissions, Mexican citizens, toxic waste disposal, airborne particles

Mexicans have become increasingly aware of environmental issues, ranging from water pollution to the potential side effects of nuclear power. The development of border industries along the northern frontier with the United States has drawn attention to these issues, as these industries have contributed heavily to numerous forms of pollution that have adversely affected both sides of the border. Groups in many border communities, as well as local governments in both countries, have worked together to improve environmental conditions, particularly those related to toxic waste disposal and water pollution.

In central Mexico, the most pronounced environmental problems are the dumping of toxins into local rivers and air pollution, especially in the capital city. Air pollution is exacerbated by the natural setting of Mexico City, which lies in a basin surrounded by mountains. Unless it rains or sufficient breezes occur, airborne particles create a heavy smog on most days. Mexico City has the world’s highest levels of dangerous air pollutants. The government has tried to reduce pollution by controlling industrial emissions and limiting the number of automobiles that can be driven daily. Mexican citizens, unsatisfied with the pace and level of government efforts, have organized grassroots environmental groups. Some have begun to support political candidates at the national level who run on green, or environmentally friendly, campaigns. Domestic and international conservation groups are working in Mexico to create biological preserves, such as the Montes Azulas Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon rain forest on the border with Guatemala.

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