The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded nearly $800,000 to UCLA to help fund research into the health risks that flooding of contaminated sites can have on low-income communities, the agency announced Friday.

“As a nation, it is our duty to protect those among us who are the most vulnerable, particularly children and older adults,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “These grants will help protect our communities and provide the information they need to be prepared and stay safe.”

According to the EPA, households near hazardous waste and industrial facilities are disproportionately occupied by low-income people of color who can face health and economic consequences from pollutant exposure. Those exposures can be exacerbated by flooding that can release contaminants.

The UCLA study is expected to help improve understanding of the risks posed by such flooding and to help with future decision-making on land-use and disaster planning to reduce the danger posed by flooding and extreme weather.

“We are excited to support UCLA’s important work toward building healthier and more resilient coastal communities,” EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud said. “By identifying vulnerable populations likely to be impacted by contaminant releases due to flooding, we help coastal communities incorporate environmental justice considerations into disaster planning.”

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