Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is EPA focusing effort on older Americans?
- What are common environmental hazards that may
affect the health of older Americans?
- What were the key initial activities of the Aging Initiative in 2002?
- What is the Aging Initiative?
- How can we create a National Agenda for the
Environment and the Aging?
- How can individuals get involved in their
community to help reduce environmental hazards?
- Are there Aging contacts and organizations
in my community?
- How can I learn more about the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA) public listening sessions on the National
Agenda for the Environment and the Aging?
- Does the Aging Initiative have any funding
- Is EPA working with any national organizations
on the development of the National Agenda for the Environment and
- How can I stay current on Aging Initiative activities and resources?
- Whom can I contact if I have further questions?
Why is EPA focusing effort on older Americans?
The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment. Protecting the health of older persons is a priority for the following reasons:
The U.S. is undergoing a demographic transformation. Older population will grow to more than 70 million by 2030.
As we age, our bodies may become more susceptible to environmental hazards because of the diminished capacity of various organ systems that occur in the natural aging process. For example, our bodies are less able to detoxify and eliminate toxins.
In addition, as we age, we are exposed to a lifetime of environmental contaminants capable of persisting and accumulating in our bodies.
What are common environmental hazards that may affect the health of older Americans?
Common environmental hazards that may especially harm the health of older persons include:
- Climate Change
- Particle Pollution (Particulate matter)
- Temperature Extremes
- Water Contaminants
What were the key initial activities of the Aging Initiative in 2002?
The first activity was to assemble an inventory of EPA research and effort targeted to older adults. This was followed by a meeting in December at the National Academies of Sciences(NAS). The NAS convened a workshop entitled "The Differential Susceptibility of Older Persons to Environmental Hazards" . The workshop brought together distinguished researchers, academics and others, including members of advocacy groups for older Americans, to discuss issues that are critical to the development of this agenda.
A meeting was held with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations and the Administrator and the Aging Initiative was launched and the first order of business was to develop a National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging. The Agenda was to be planned by holding a series of stakeholder meetings and public listening sessions around the country.
What is the Aging Initiative?
The Aging Initiative is an effort that will develop a three-pronged National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging. The Agenda will:
- prioritize and study environmental health threats to older persons;
- examine the effect that a rapidly growing aging population might have on our environment;
- encourage older persons to volunteer in their own communities to reduce hazards and protect the environment
What is the National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging?
The National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging was developed through an open, participatory process designed to solicit input from stakeholders including professionals in the fields of aging and health, older adults and health care providers.
The recommendations stemming from that workshop helped shape discussion at approximately six public listening sessions that were held in the Spring of 2003 to solicit public input in various parts of the country including Florida, Texas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, California and Maryland.
The result of the public input the agenda resulted in four priorities for the National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging. The goals are the following:
- Identify research gaps in environmental health
- Translate research findings into public health prevention strategies
- Create tools to address the impact an aging society an have on the environment (Built Environment)
- Provide opportunities for older persons to be environmental stewards in their communities.
How can individuals get involved in their community to help reduce environmental hazards?
There are many ways to get involved. An important component of the Aging Initiative is to encourage environmental stewardship among older persons in communities across the country. There are many excellent programs that are already making a difference for the environment.
The Corporation for National and Community Service has a web-based recruitment system that helps to link older persons with volunteer activities in their communities. You can learn more about serving in your community by visiting Senior Corps.
Are there Aging contacts and organizations in my community?
State Units on Aging -- There are 57 State Offices on Aging across the United States representing all 50 states and U.S. Territories.
Area Agencies on Aging -- There are 655 area agencies on aging which address the needs and concerns of older Americans at the local and tribal level.
How can I learn more about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) public listening sessions on the National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging?
Throughout the Spring of 2003, the EPA held six public listening sessions to gather input for the development of a National Agenda for the Environment and that Aging. The sessions were held in Tampa, FL; San Antonio, TX; Iowa City, IA; Pittsburgh, PA; Los Angeles, CA; and Baltimore, Maryland. Collectively more than 200 individuals including older Americans presented comments at these sessions, and approximately 1000 people were in attendance. To learn more about the comments that were made at the listening sessions, please visit http://www.epa.gov/aging/listening/index.htm
Does the Aging Initiative have any funding opportunities?
The U.S. EPA Aging Initative posts opportunities on its home page and grant page as opportunities become available. The Aging Initiative website lists funding opportunities from the EPA, other federal agencies, and private foundations.
The U.S. EPA Aging Initiative funded grants and contracts from 2003 to 2011. While there no longer is funding for the Aging Initiative there are other funding opportunities at both EPA and at other federal agencies that potentially could fund projects in the area of environmental health and aging.
For more information read about our funding opportunities.
Is EPA working with any national organizations on the development of the National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging?
The EPA worked in partnership with many national organizations representing older Americans, professionals in the field of aging, health and aging research, and local community service providers to craft the National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging. We have listed the names of many of these organizations on our Information Sources page under Non Governmental Organizations (http://www.epa.gov/aging/resources/ngo.htm)
How can I stay current on Aging Initiative activities and resources?
The Aging Initiative has an electronic news letter, or list serve, that is sent out monthly. To join, simply sign up. If you do not have an email address, we can send a hard copy to those who request it. Please provide your name and mailing address with this request for a hard copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whom can I contact if I have further questions?