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First EPA Aging Initiative Public Listening Session Draws Strong Participation from Tampa's Senior Community

Release Date: 04/03/2003
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John Millett 202-564-7842 /

(04/03/03) In an important step toward enhancing environmental and health protections for older Americans, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today joined public health experts and advocates for the aging representing federal, state, and local agencies in the first of several national listening sessions to engage people from across the country in developing a National Agenda on the Environment and the Aging. Administrator Whitman also met members of Tampa’s senior community during a visit to Brandon Senior Center and Progress Village.

“Protecting the health of older Americans must be one of EPA’s priorities,” said Whitman. “There is much we can do together to make older persons and their families aware of – and safe from – environmental hazards that may impact their health and quality of life,” said Whitman. By opening up this process and encouraging this type of active participation can we expect to gain a more complete understanding of the environmental health issues of most concern and the most effective ways to address those issues. I know that this listening session will yield valuable insight and direction to our efforts. Working together we can ensure that for all older Americans the years ahead are indeed golden and that the future is one of environmental health and security.”

“A healthy environment is the foundation for a strong quality of life,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary David B. Struhs. “With cleaner air, cleaner water and unmatched outdoor recreational opportunity, Florida is providing that foundation and building a better environment for its elders and families.”

“We are very pleased to host the first in a series of public listening sessions and to help EPA shape a National Agenda on the Environment and Aging. There is no better place to convene this first session than right here in Florida, where more than 18 percent of our population is age 65 or older,” said Robert M. Daugherty, MD, PhD, dean of the USF College of Medicine, vice president of health sciences. The intersection of aging and the environment interesting and important. At USF we pride ourselves on our faculty accomplishments in both fields of study. But bringing both together suggests the creation of a new kind of health workforce – where medicine, nursing and, most importantly, public health come together. This is the workforce we need in America. This is the workforce we’re committed to build.”

“As an Area Agency on Aging, we are always facing the challenges of preparing for the future and helping to shape public policy, said Maureen S. Kelly, executive director of the West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging, Inc. “This public listening session allows senior volunteers and senior advocates to provide that voice to help shape environmental policy for future generations.”

EPA is in the early stages of examining the impact that a rapidly growing aging population will have on ecosystems. This will be the first coordinated approach by the agency to address environmental hazards that affect the health of the elderly.

The public listening sessions are an essential part of a nationwide effort to encourage public participation in the development of a National Agenda on the Environment and the Aging. The National Agenda will build on EPA’s ongoing aging research efforts, identify research gaps in environmental health, develop strategies to prepare for a rapidly aging population, and encourage older adults to volunteer in local environmental health awareness and improvement efforts. Future listening sessions are will take place in San Antonio, Texas (April 8); Iowa City, Iowa (April 15); Pittsburgh, Pa. (April 23); Los Angeles, Calif. (April 29); and Baltimore, Md. (May 7).

Currently there are 35 million people in the United States 65 years of age and older, and that number is expected to double over the next 30 years. In 2011, the first of the baby boomers will begin to turn 65. Among older Americans there is an increasing number who are at risk of chronic diseases and disabling conditions that may be caused or exacerbated by environmental conditions. Hazards that may adversely impact the health of older Americans include lead, indoor and outdoor air pollution, microorganisms in water and pesticides. As part of the Initiative, the agency will build on ongoing projects.