Research project led by UAA’s Micah Hahn receives grant funding from EPA
by Austin Osborne |
UAA Associate Professor of Environmental Health Micah Hahn is leading a research project around climate change, health, wildfire smoke and environmental justice in Alaska that recently received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On Feb. 27, the EPA announced over $3.9 million in grant funding for community-based research in Washington and Alaska to examine how climate change compounds adverse environmental conditions and stressors for vulnerable populations in underserved communities. The funding also aims to inform efforts to mitigate these impacts and improve resilience. The grants are among $21,410,211 in funding awarded to 16 institutions nationwide.
Hahn’s project is titled Filling data gaps: Developing a community-centered tool for assessing health impacts of intersecting climate hazards, wildfire smoke exposure, and social disparities in rural tribal and aging communities in Alaska.
“Increasing exposure to wildfire smoke is a major issue in Alaska, with intersecting climate-related hazards such as the impacts of warming winter weather on transportation safety, ecological changes driving unpredictable fisheries, and coastal erosion affecting community infrastructure,” said Hahn. “There are major data gaps in Alaska compared to communities in the Lower 48 with regard to these environmental changes and the impact they are having on the health of our communities.”
Hahn’s research team will engage academic researchers, state, tribal, wildfire management, public health entities, and community partners to develop locally relevant and practical tools for accessing health, climate, and environmental data in a useful and understandable way. Communities will be able to use the tool to assess compounding climate hazards and social vulnerabilities, prioritize climate-related health impacts and vulnerable groups, design effective interventions, and apply for climate resilience funding.
In addition, the research team will connect with communities around the state to learn about challenges they have experienced with monitoring local air quality. The team will use this information to support the development of a more resilient and sustainable network of low-cost air quality sensors in Alaska.