December 21, 2023
Dear Community Members and Families of the Aliso Canyon Disaster area,
We hope this letter finds you well. We write today to update you on Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research Study progress and upcoming activities.
Thank you to all who attended the first two community meetings. The first meeting, held on September 12 online and September 14 in person, provided an overview of the Study’s goals and approach and a description of air monitoring activities that will be conducted in the community. The second meeting, held on November 14 online, focused on two specific and important Study methodology components: definition of the affected community (impact zone) and identification of comparison communities (control groups). Key to both meetings were the questions asked and feedback provided by community members. We are grateful for your invaluable information, insights, and perspectives. Your feedback based on lived experience in the area has already improved the Study methodology.
Community meeting recordings, presentations, and a draft Community Stakeholder Communications Plan (CSCP) are available on the Study website community engagement page. The draft CSCP serves as a comprehensive guide for our outreach, communications, and engagement efforts. We are in the process of revising the document in response to Scientific Oversight Committee (SOC) comments. We welcome comments from the community on the CSCP, which will be reviewed and revised as necessary.
We have formed a Community Engagement Support and Advice Network (CESAN), a group of community members who have graciously volunteered to advise and assist UCLA’s outreach, communications, and engagement efforts. A virtual kickoff CESAN meeting was held on December 18.
Year 1 of the Study is now complete. Accomplishments during this year include:
- Gathering and preliminary analyses of existing survey and environmental data;
- Reviewing scientific literature on what is known about health effects of known environmental-exposures on cancer and other health outcomes;
- Collecting new environmental data and collaborating with local agencies to obtain data;
- Initiating recruitment of volunteers for community air quality monitoring;
- Conducting an analysis of birth outcomes using statewide birth records; and
- Gathering information for and drafting the community resident health survey.
In the coming year, we will continue activities in environmental exposure assessment, including conducting indoor and outdoor air monitoring and unburned natural gas sampling, as well as refining the spatial images and estimates of exposure to the blowout and across time.
We will also begin a number of new health-focused activities in 2024, kicking off the year by recruiting residents for focus groups, followed by launching enrollment for the resident health survey and clinical exams in summer and fall, respectively. We will continue to expand our catalog of data related to the disaster and conduct analyses, while meeting quarterly with our SOC.
The next community meeting will be held in February 2024. We anticipate sharing preliminary results of the birth outcomes analysis at the meeting. A flyer with more information will be distributed in January.
Please make sure to sign-up for our email list on the Study website “Contact Us” page to receive information as it becomes available. We look forward to seeing you at the next community meeting!
Wishing you a happy holiday season and best wishes for the new year,
The UCLA Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research Study Team and Partners.