Differences in health symptoms among residents living near illegal dump sites in Los Laureles Canyon, Tijuana, Mexico: a cross sectional survey

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Sep 15;11(9):9532-52. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110909532.


Living near landfills is a known health hazard prompting recognition of environmental injustice. The study aim was to compare self-reported symptoms of ill health among residents of four neighborhoods, living in haphazardly constructed settlements surrounded by illegal dumpsites in Tijuana, Mexico. One adult from each of 388 households located in Los Laureles Canyon were interviewed about demographics, health status, and symptoms. Distance from each residence to both the nearest dumpsite and the canyon bottom was assessed. The neighborhoods were selected from locations within the canyon, and varied with respect to proximity to dump sites. Residents of San Bernardo reported significantly higher frequencies of ill-health symptoms than the other neighborhoods, including extreme fatigue (OR 3.01 (95% CI 1.6-5.5)), skin problems/irritations (OR 2.73 (95% CI 1.3-5.9)), stomach discomfort (OR 2.47 (1.3-4.8)), eye irritation/tears (OR 2.02 (1.2-3.6)), and confusion/difficulty concentrating (OR 2.39 (1.2-4.8)). Proximity to dumpsites did not explain these results, that varied only slightly when adjusted for distance to nearest dumpsite or distance to the canyon bottom. Because San Bernardo has no paved roads, we hypothesize that dust and the toxicants it carries is a possible explanation for this difference. Studies are needed to further document this association and sources of toxicants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Waste Disposal Facilities*
  • Young Adult


  • Environmental Pollutants