Projects led by UCLA Fielding School of Public Health investigators have received grants through a partnership between the University of California and the state intended to spur research and real-world solutions that tackle the threat of climate change throughout California. The two-year California Climate Action Grants have been allocated by the state for UC climate initiatives that advance progress toward California’s climate goals.
“As the state’s preeminent research institution, the University of California is proud to partner with the state to pursue our shared climate goals,” UC President Michael Drake said in a statement. “The innovations catalyzed by the Climate Action awards will make all of our communities safer, more sustainable, and more resilient. I am grateful to the state Legislature and Gov. Newsom for providing funding to support this critical research on climate change in California.”
Projects addressing climate change and the associated UCLA Fielding awardees are:
Respiratory protection for firefighters in wildlands
Investigator: Dr. Rachael Jones, professor and chair, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
Respirators are the primary means of protecting firefighters from inhaling toxic combustion products. In remote wildland areas, however, where climate change has increased the incidence of fires, firefighters often work without respirators because of the devices’ limited air capacity and a lack of extra air bottles. Jones and her colleagues will evaluate several prototypes of powered air-purifying respirators to determine whether they should be adopted by wildland firefighters. The research will be conducted in partnership with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the results will be used by Cal/OSHA. Grant amount: $1.98 million.
Community-driven electric vehicle charging
Investigator: Dr. Yifang Zhu, professor of environmental health sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
To help reduce greenhouse gases, Zhu and scholars from UCLA and Cal State Northridge aim to develop solutions to enable residents of disadvantaged communities to more readily adopt electric vehicles. Currently, the use of EVs in these communities has been limited by a number of factors, including a lack of access to charging stations. The researchers will work with local residents and community-based organizations to identify these barriers, improve knowledge and awareness of EVs, and design plans for deploying and installing charging stations in underserved areas. This project also received an additional grant of $20,000 in recognition of its community engagement objectives. Grant amount: $1.99 million.
Health and safety of migrant workers responding to climate-related disasters
Investigator: Kevin Riley, director of FSPH's UCLA Labor and Occupational Safety and Health program
Led by Riley, this collaboration among occupational health researchers and day-labor worker centers aims to develop insights to protect the health and safety of migrant workers, who have played an increasingly prominent role in responding to the nation’s climate-related disasters and recovery efforts. Such workers, who often help to remove debris and to demolish damaged structures after wildfires, earthquakes, storms and floods, are frequently exposed to unique job-related hazards — risks that are worsened because they have limited legal protections and are often subject to labor exploitation. Grant amount: $2 million.
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