San Ysidro border crossing
San Ysidro border crossing (CC-by-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade).

At the port of San Ysidro, cars line up each day and wait for hours to cross the border between Mexico and San Diego. As the busiest land port in the western hemisphere, it has …

Flores: “… as many as 50,000 vehicles crossing northbound on a daily basis.”

That’s David Flores of Casa Familiar, a Community Development Agency in San Ysidro. He says residents in the surrounding area worry about whether pollution from all those idling cars affects their health.

A 2008 study found that air pollution at the border crossing was ten times higher than at a beach just six miles away.

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So Casa Familiar is leading a more extensive, two-year study to see how far into the community the pollution carries. They’ve installed low-cost air monitors in areas of concern, like local schools.

Flores: “With that, we hope to develop, ‘Okay, so now what? Now what do we do as a community?’”

Flores says the data could be used to alert residents of poor air quality days, or re-route pedestrian walkways. It could also help San Ysidro find funding for new bike paths that could encourage commuters to bike across the border instead of drive.

Armed with information, the community aims to better protect their health.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Eileen Mignoni

Eileen Mignoni is a South Florida-based visual journalist who has been working on stories about science, the environment, and energy for nearly 10 years. In addition to her work at Yale Climate Connections,...