Statement Of Dr. Bernard Goldstein
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
April 23, 2003
Dean, School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh
Welcome! I am going to tell you the ground rules. The ground rules are that we are listening. What is most important, the EPA has committed to working for seniors to protect them from environmental hazards. There is a marked difference in susceptibility factors but age is a major one. As we discuss these issues, that factor needs to be addressed.
We are very proud to be a cosponsor of this listening session. Our Graduate School of Public Health is part of the University of Pittsburgh, and we have spent more than $100 million in research related to aging. We have a Center for Healthy Aging funded by CDC, and we are the only prevention center funded competitively that has chosen the theme of Healthy Aging. We've done this because it is so much a part of the ambiance of our city, of our region. We have the second oldest population of any with Dade County in Florida being first, and it's not because people choose to retire here. We stay here. We have a community that is very stable and involved. And because of that we have insight into what happens when people are exposed and what it means to a community when you have problems like pollution.
What I am going to do for the next two minutes is introduce the rest of the panel but first let me tell you that I am a former Assistant Administrator for Research and Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I knew we did research on the issues of aging 20 years ago. We looked at the issue of sensitivity to ozone and found that seniors were more sensitive. We came out with a communications strategy that is still good today. So I am going to suggest to the U.S. EPA that a major emphasis should be the communicating of what we know to all of us. For example, during ozone season it's very simple. If ozone air pollution does not start until 10:00 or 11:00 a.m., and it doesn't go away an hour later, basically you know you should do your walking, your outdoor activities, your shopping early in the a.m., not the evening. If the ozone and air pollution is bad today, and the weather does not change, it will be bad tomorrow. We don't have to wait for the newspaper reports to know that. Those are two facts we can all take in if we know them. So let's get the information disseminated - that is my suggestion to the EPA.