UCLA receives $21 million grant to study health effects of Aliso Canyon gas leak

LOS ANGELES (November 2, 2022) – A team of UCLA researchers has received $20,993,333 from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to conduct the Aliso Disaster Health Research Study Canyon.

A multidisciplinary team of renowned UCLA scientists and health practitioners will conduct the health study, which will include five components, including an assessment of health and health care utilization, an assessment of exposure, community engagement, data management and statistical analysis, and overall program administration.

The purpose of the health study is to assess the short-term and long-term health impacts of the gas blowout that occurred in 2015-2016. The Aliso Canyon disaster was the largest underground gas storage facility disaster in United States history. The eruption, in the northwest San Fernando Valley, released about 109,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere, along with other constituents of oil and gas, over a period of nearly four months . About 232,200 residents lived within a five-mile radius of the facility. Residents reported experiencing foul odors, oily mists and a range of health symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, nosebleeds, coughing and irritation of the eyes, nose and of the throat.

“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 Dr. Michael Jerrett, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of environmental health sciences and co-principal investigator of the study. “We have assembled 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 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 large and sometimes very complex. We will present these results in a clear and accessible way to provide the information residents, regulators and decision makers need to understand the impacts of the disaster and take action when needed.

Those leading the health study include:

  • Dr. Michael Jerrett, PhD, PI and Senior Exhibit Director, Director of the UCLA Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH), Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Healthy Climate Solutions, and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of public health ;
  • Dr. Honghu Liu, PhD, Senior Statistical and Data Analysis Officer, Professor and Chair of the Population and Public Health Section at UCLA School of Dentistry, and Professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine;
  • Dr. Nadereh Pourat, PhD, Project Manager, Senior Program Administration Officer, Director of the Health Economics and Evaluation (HEER) Research Program at the Center for Health Policy Research at the UCLA (CHPR) and professor at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA;
  • Dr. Jesus Araujo, MD, PhD, co-senior health and wellness officer and professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and David Geffen School of Medicine;
  • Dr. Wendie Robbins, RN, PhD, co-senior health and wellness officer and professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and UCLA School of Nursing.
  • Dr. David Eisenman, MD, senior community stakeholder communications officer, co-director of the UCLA Center for Healthy Climate Solutions, and professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and David Geffen School of Medicine; and
  • Dr. Diane A. Garcia-Gonzales, PhD, air quality and climate change scientist at the UCLA Center for Healthy Climate Solutions.

UCLA’s team of researchers and consultants includes well-established subject matter experts who have extensive experience in exposure assessment and advanced modeling methods, clinical assessments, treatment and integration Datas.

The health study will be overseen by a Scientific Oversight Committee (SOC), which is a group of independent scientific experts and representatives from regulatory agencies, with additional stakeholder input from a Community Advisory Board ( CAB). Public Health will serve in a monitoring capacity and follow up on administrative contracts.

“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 communities who were impacted by the Aliso Canyon disaster.”

The contract will begin this month and the health study is scheduled for five years, with the possibility of extending it for up to five additional one-year periods.

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The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to improving public health by conducting innovative research, developing future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 countries committed to achieving the vision of building a healthy future in greater Los Angeles, California, the country, and the world.

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