SCVNews.com | UCLA Selected to Conduct Disaster Health Research Study at Aliso Canyon
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Nov. 1 the selection of the University of California, Los Angeles to conduct the Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research Study.
The total contract award is $20,993,333 and research is expected to begin this month. The contract with UCLA is for five years with an option to extend for up to five additional one-year periods.
The purpose of the health study is to assess the short- and long-term health impacts of the 2015-2016 gas blowout at Southern California Gas’ Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility. Company. More than 109,000 metric tons of methane were released in 111 days. As a result of the eruption, residents of nearby communities experienced rotten egg odors, oily mists and acute health symptoms including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and respiratory symptoms. Many residents reported lingering health issues after returning home from temporary relocation and expressed concerns about potential long-term health effects.
UCLA’s world-class research team will conduct the health study, which consists of five main components, including a comprehensive health research program, exposure assessment, management and l data analysis, overall program administration and community engagement.
UCLA has emphasized the importance of community engagement and will undertake a comprehensive process to solicit feedback and disseminate information to affected communities throughout the implementation of the health study. The proposal submitted by UCLA responded to community feedback and will include clinical evaluations.
“UCLA’s proposal will provide in-depth research that investigates the possible physical impacts of the Aliso Canyon disaster, but also, and more importantly, the far-reaching potential impacts on mental, social, and community health and well-being. “said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “The sheer scope of the UCLA health study is impressive and appropriately addresses the needs of affected communities who have been on the front lines of one of the greatest environmental disasters in US history. .”
“The awarding of the Health Study contract is an important milestone and the first step in bringing long-awaited scientific research and answers to residents affected by the Aliso Canyon incident,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “Residents still have lingering questions about the potential impacts on their health and well-being. By engaging this group of highly qualified researchers from UCLA, the county is showing its commitment to providing information that will empower and inform affected communities.
“I would like to thank the Scientific Oversight Committee and the panel of scientific and medical experts whose efforts made it possible to solicit and select this exceptional research team,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of the public health. With the researchers in place, we are well on our way to scientifically investigating the unanswered questions and concerns raised by the communities that were impacted by the Aliso Canyon disaster.
In addition to providing long-awaited information to community stakeholders on potential short- and long-term health impacts related to the Aliso Canyon disaster and gas storage facility operations, Research results can be used by regulators, policy makers, health care providers and the community. organizations to inform local responses and/or actions that support the recovery and health of affected communities.
The team of UCLA researchers and consultants conducting the health study spans multiple research campuses and a range of relevant scientific disciplines.
The team includes well-established subject matter experts as well as internationally renowned scientists and healthcare professionals. Together they have extensive experience in exposure assessment and advanced modeling methods; clinical assessments; data processing and integration; analyzes of physical and mental health outcomes; assessment of community resilience and disaster stressors; community engagement and public communications.
“People living near the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility have legitimate questions about how emissions from the facility could affect their health now and in the future,” said Michael Jerrett, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and co-principal investigator of the study. “We brought together a team of the world’s best scientists to study the environmental and health impact of the facility, including physical and mental health, quality of life and general well-being throughout their lives. We will focus on studying the health impacts of the eruption disaster in 2015-2016 and routine emissions from the facility. The results of these studies will be exceptionally important and sometimes very complex. We will present these findings in a clear and accessible way to provide the information residents, regulators and policy makers need to understand the impacts of the disaster and take action when needed.
The health study will be overseen by a scientific oversight committee made up of independent scientific experts and representatives from regulatory agencies. The Oversight Committee will receive regular updates on the health study from the UCLA research team during its implementation, provide advice, as needed, on the design and implementation of the research and will assess progress in health study on an annual basis after completion of the third year of health study. Public Health will serve in a monitoring capacity and follow up on administrative contracts.
“The UCLA team is uniquely positioned to examine the health impacts of the Aliso Canyon disaster and provide much-needed responses to the community,” said Sophia Wang, PhD, SOC Fellow and Professor at the City of Hope.
For more information about the health study and upcoming research, please visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/healthresearch/.