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Climate-LEAD: Pioneering Localized Environmental Health Research Along the Texas Gulf Coast

In a step towards understanding the localized effects of climate change on health disparities, Dr. Lei Zou from Texas A&M University has been awarded $1,499,990 by the Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of junior, mid-career, and senior researchers - Co-Principal Investigators include Dr. Wendy Jepson and Dr. Heng Cai from Geography, Dr. Qingsheng Wang from Chemical Engineering, Dr. Shankar Chellam and Dr. Qi Ying from Civil & Environmental Engineering, Dr. Michelle Meyer and Dr. Siyu Yu from Architecture, and Dr. Natalie Johnson and Dr. Itza Mendoza-Sanchez from Public Health.


Climate-LEAD Project: A Closer Look


The Climate-LEAD project, formally titled "Climate Effects on Localized Environmental Health Disparities in Overburdened Texas Communities Along Gulf Coast," will focus on the Southeast Texas communities that have long been affected by poor localized air and water quality.


These communities have suffered from emissions from petrochemical facilities and frequent coastal hazards. With ongoing climate change expected to bring about more extreme events, the existing environmental hazards and health crises will likely be exacerbated.


The Project's Aims and Goals


Dr. Zou's team aims to develop fine-scaled databases, models, and tools to predict the near-, mid-, and long-term impacts of intensified air pollution and water insecurity on health disparities. The project's urgency lies in the fact that it seeks to quantify future environmental health disparities under varying climate change scenarios to inform crucial mitigation strategies on a local scale. Thus, it will guide stakeholders in strengthening health resilience to environmental hazards and lead the way in environmental health management.


The Gulf Research Program: An Overview


The award is part of a larger $5.9 million investment by the GRP to advance understanding of climate change effects on local health disparities. The emphasis on localized data marks a significant shift from traditional models and data products that have often relied on national datasets. Daniel Burger, senior program manager of the GRP’s Gulf Health and Resilience Board, noted the importance of these projects in empowering community stakeholders to make the best decisions for their communities.

 


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