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EPA Awards nearly $800,000 to UCLA to Advance Critical Public Health Research on Coastal Flooding

09/04/2020
Contact Information: 
Alejandro Diaz (diaz.alejandro@epa.gov)
808-541-2711

LOS ANGELES — Yesterday, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration and in recognition of Environmental Emergency Preparedness month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $799,999 in funding to UCLA for research on health risks from coastal flooding of contaminated sites in disadvantaged communities.

Across the country, households living near hazardous waste and industrial facilities are disproportionately made up of low-income people of color who face health and economic challenges that exacerbate the health effects of pollutant exposures. As a result, potential contaminant releases due to flooding of hazardous sites are more likely to impact disadvantaged populations. Results of this UCLA study are expected to help inform land use and disaster planning efforts to help reduce impacts to these communities.

“As a nation, it is our duty to protect those among us who are the most vulnerable, particularly children and older adults,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These grants will help protect our communities and provide the information they need to be prepared and stay safe.”

“We are excited to support UCLA’s important work toward building healthier and more resilient coastal communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “By identifying vulnerable populations likely to be impacted by contaminant releases due to flooding, we help coastal communities incorporate environmental justice considerations into disaster planning.”

Facilities and regulatory agencies take numerous precautions to prepare for natural disasters or changing environmental conditions that can pose increased risks for contaminant releases . Following a natural disaster, EPA addresses environmental emergencies through action under laws such as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), known as Superfund, presidential directives, national frameworks, and other statutes. The agency’s emergency management support is led in the field by on-scene coordinators (OSCs) who assess, monitor, and evaluate activities during and after a response.

Research conducted by universities furthers preparedness efforts by aiming to understand how communities can become more resilient to risks.

Flooding events leading to releases of toxic substances are becoming more frequent, posing potential health risks to residents living near sites that store or use hazardous materials. The UCLA study will integrate data to help better understand the risks to vulnerable communities from coastal flooding. The project will develop publicly accessible, customizable online tools to help communities, businesses and decision makers understand health threats posed by coastal flooding of contaminated sites. This information will help to inform land use and disaster planning efforts and reduce community exposures to releases from extreme weather, flooding, and rising seas.

For more information on EPA's research grant recipients:

https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/654/records_per_page/ALL

Learn more about EPA Research Grants.

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