Dr. Lara Cushing, the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Jonathan and Karin Fielding Presidential Chair in Health Equity and an assistant professor of environmental health sciences, will serve on a panel overseeing California’s efforts to monitor environmental contaminants.
Cushing was appointed to the Biomonitoring California Scientific Guidance Panel, or SGP, in January and will be sworn in and begin service at the panel’s March 25 meeting. The biomonitoring program is a joint effort of the California Department of Public Health, and the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and Department of Toxic Substances Control.
“I am honored to join the accomplished scientists on the SGP and help provide high-level scientific guidance to the state on its efforts to monitor Californian’s exposure to environmental contaminants,” said Cushing, who has led research into environmental health risks in California since 2015, including the impact of sea level rise on contaminated industrial sites and access to safe drinking water.
“Biomonitoring is the measurement of chemicals in people’s bodies, and it tells us important information about hazardous chemicals that people are exposed to from multiple sources including air, soil, water, and food,” she said. “Understanding the body burden of toxic chemicals among Californians can reveal whether chemical phaseouts and pollution prevention efforts have been effective at reducing exposures and identify disproportionately impacted communities and emerging chemicals of concern.”
The California Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Program, also called Biomonitoring California, was established by legislation passed in 2006. It is a collaborative effort of three departments in two State agencies, the California Department of Public Health, in the Health and Human Services Agency, and the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and Department of Toxic Substances Control. The main goals of the program are to:
- Determine levels of environmental chemicals in a representative sample of Californians
- Establish trends in the levels of these chemicals over time
- Help assess the effectiveness of efforts to decrease exposures to specific chemicals
The SGP, made up of nine members, makes recommendations regarding the Program's design and implementation and provides scientific peer review for Biomonitoring California.
Cushing has taught at UCLA since 2020; she previously taught at San Francisco State University, and earned her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a faculty affiliate with the UCLA Center for Healthy Climate Solutions.