A surfer wipes out as up to 10-foot waves were the result of a west-northwest swell along the West Coast.
The EPA awarded UCSD one of three grants to UC campuses to study air and coastal pollution. Photo by Chris Stone

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that UC San Diego received a grant of nearly $400,000 to study coastal pollutants, including plastic waste.

The UCSD award was among a trio of research grants given to University of California campuses for air pollution reduction research. The EPA issued a total of seven grants nationally to higher learning institutions to fund such projects.

UCSD’s $399,464 grant will support a project “to improve online detection and quantification of several under-studied toxic plastic additives of emerging concern in atmospheric particles in a coastal marine environment,” according to an EPA statement.

UCSD Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jonathan H. Slade called plastic waste “one of the greatest environmental threats to our planet,” adding that there is “very limited quantitative information” available on how to limit their their impact.

“This project will employ a novel approach to quantitatively measure in-situ toxic additives found in plastics and personal care products in aerosol at the beach,” he said. “The results from this study will help constrain the sources and factors affecting their emission in air at the coast in San Diego, so we can better understand potential health risks.”

The other UC grants recipients:

  • UC Davis – will develop and test an instrument “for near real-time speciation and quantification of volatile organic compounds, including hazardous air pollutants.”
  • UCLA – will develop “an open-source reference instrument and methodology for the operation, validation and quality assurance and quality control of optical remote sensing monitoring of several air toxics.”

The EPA grants, announced Thursday, include nearly $2 million for the three UC schools as part of the more than $4.7 million awarded.

Martha Guzman, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said the grants will support “crucial research” by California universities.

“Though EPA has made progress on improving air quality, we are committed to further reducing contaminants in air, especially in our underserved communities here in the Pacific Southwest,” she said.

– City News Service