EPA Announces Over $5 Million to California Organizations to Investigate Cumulative Health Impacts of Climate Change on Underserved Communities
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced over $5 million in grant funding to four California institutions for community-based research to examine how climate change may compound adverse environmental conditions and stressors for vulnerable populations in underserved communities. EPA is awarding more than $21 million to 16 institutions across the country to investigate cumulative health impacts of climate change on underserved communities.
“These projects will advance solutions to challenges lying at the intersection of climate change and environmental justice, both here in California and in communities around the country,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Advancing scientific research that helps protect public health and the environment is central to EPA’s mission and these projects will have lasting results for years to come.”
The following California institutions are receiving awards:
- Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Sustainable and Healthy Energy, Oakland, Calif., $1,350,000 grant, Contra Costa Climate Air Pollution, and Pregnancy Study (CC CAPS)
- Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., $1,350,000 grant, Advancing sanitation justice: Linking climate-exacerbated nitrogen, cyanotoxins, and parasites with reimagined sanitation infrastructure and services in African American communities
- University of California, Davis, Davis, Calif., $1,349,979 grant, Early Life Vulnerability to Climate-driven Wildfire Events on Pregnancy and Child Developmental Health Outcomes in Underserved Populations
- University of California – San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif., $1,330,536 grant, Partnering for Resilient Opportunities to Eliminate Cumulative Toxic (PROTECT) Health Effects from Wildfire PM2.5 in Environmental Justice Communities
“We know that climate change is already increasing exposure to air pollution, extreme heat, and humidity and that these events increase health risks, particularly for vulnerable populations,” said Elena Krieger, director of research at Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Sustainable and Healthy Energy. “Our aim is to better understand these exposures and health outcomes and to work with communities and policy makers to develop targeted, community-led, and effective interventions.”
“It’s important to find out what the real concerns during pregnancy may be — including perhaps at what times during pregnancy we need to have people be the most careful about their exposure,” said Rebecca J. Schmidt, UC Davis Health molecular epidemiologist and associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. “Our first step is to see who has the greatest exposures to these repeated wildfire events. Then we’ll look at how that varies by factors such as race, ethnicity, rural versus urban location, poverty level and exposure to other pollutants.”
The environmental and health effects of climate change are far reaching. Some communities are more vulnerable because they already face greater exposure to pollutants and lack the resources to respond to and cope with environmental stressors. These communities may be more likely to suffer sustained or even permanent damage from the impacts of climate change, further worsening health disparities. Additionally, children, older adults, and people with disabilities or pre-existing health conditions may be more susceptible.
These grants will support research projects that will use community-based participatory research approaches that aim to empower the partnering underserved communities with science-based resilience-building solutions to protect their most vulnerable residents.
Learn more about EPA’s Cumulative Impacts Research.