Stanford University
Wooksey wildfire

Gabrielle Wong-Parodi receives EPA grant to assess wildfire smoke exposure

The behavioral scientist will explore the effects of interventions to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke among low-income hard-to-reach populations in California.

BY Danielle Torrent Tucker
ClockSeptember 08, 2021

Assistant professor of Earth system science Gabrielle Wong-Parodi has received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect information about the behavior, exposure and health of individuals in communities affected by wildfire smoke.

Profile image for Gabrielle Wong-Parodi
Gabrielle Wong-Parodi

The award will fund a two-year longitudinal, randomized study of nearly 300 Bay Area residents from low-income and non-English speaking communities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Researchers will test how effectively app-delivered native language messaging, air sealing and/or portable HEPA air filters can reduce exposure to particulate matter from smoke and its associated health risks over time, in comparison to a control group.

Smoke exposure can cause coughing, wheezing and headaches in addition to exacerbating long-term conditions, like asthma, cardiovascular health, stress and trauma. The study aims to identify affordable and actionable interventions that are behaviorally realistic for the hard-to-reach communities that they serve.

“We hypothesize that affordable technology- and native language messaging-based interventions decrease exposure to smoke and health risks among those who are low-income and Non-English speaking during wildfires,” the researchers wrote in the proposal.

The methods, results and lessons learned from this project could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for wildfire smoke exposure in other settings, according to Wong-Parodi, who is also a fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. The funding is part of over $7 million allocated by the EPA to integrate social and behavioral sciences, air quality science and engineering in an effort to help communities reduce exposure to wildland fire smoke.

“Extreme wildfires are happening and wildfire smoke exposure is a real threat to many people,” Wong-Parodi said. “We need clarity on effective ways that people can protect themselves given who they are, what they can afford and where they live.”

This story was adapted from a press release issued by EPA.

How do people respond to wildfire smoke?

Interviews with Northern California residents reveal that social norms and social support are essential for understanding protective health behaviors during wildfire smoke events – information that could be leveraged to improve public health outcomes.

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Media Contacts

Danielle T. Tucker

School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, 650-497-9541

Gabrielle Wong-Parodi

School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences

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