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Expertise in Catastrophic Events Leads to Important Role for Faculty Member in Research Study

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

PAU professor Lisa Brown, an expert in the evaluation and development of mental health programs related to catastrophic events, will participate on an oversight committee that is looking at the public health impact of the October 2015 Aliso Canyon disaster – the largest gas blowout in the history of the U.S. Dr. Brown will serve as a member Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research Study Scientific Oversight Committee.

“Dr. Brown’s expertise and experience will be invaluable in helping us plan and oversee the Health Research Study,” said Katie M. Butler, a senior staff analyst for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Dr. Brown is director of both PAU’s Trauma Program and the university’s Risk and Resilience Research Lab. As a researcher, she is actively involved in developing and evaluating mental health programs used nationally and internationally, crafting recommendations aimed at protecting individuals and communities during catastrophic events, facilitating participation of key stakeholders, and improving access to resources and services. 

The Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research Study will examine the potential short and long-term health impacts from the disaster on people living in the surrounding communities and work towards community recovery in the wake of this disaster. The knowledge gained from the Health Research Study will be used to better prepare for disasters in the future and to prevent or minimize adverse health effects arising from them.

The disaster began at the Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. An estimated total of 109,000 metric tons of methane flowed uncontrolled from an Aliso Canyon well until it was successfully sealed 111 days later. As a result of the disaster, people in neighboring communities experienced foul odors, oily mists, and acute health symptoms, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, and respiratory symptoms.  


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