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Release Date: 10/29/2002
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Environmental News



Steffanie Bell 202-564-6976 /

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today met with the heads of the nation's leading aging organizations to announce that the agency is developing a new Aging Initiative that will result in a national agenda designed to examine and prioritize environmental health threats to older persons.
The Initiative will examine the impact that a rapidly growing aging population will have on ecosystems as well as encourage older persons to volunteer in their own communities to reduce hazards and protect the environment for future generations. This will be the first coordinated approach by the agency to address environmental hazards that affect the health of the elderly. More than twenty-five different organizations were represented at today’s meeting.

"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."

Speaking on behalf of the 50-member Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), President and CEO of the National Council on the Aging James Firman said, "We commend the EPA for focusing on the health and safety of older Americans. We know many LCAO members will want to work with the EPA to educate seniors about such threats and promote civic engagement of seniors nationwide in combating these problems."

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 are lead, indoor and outdoor air pollution, microorganisms in water and pesticides. As part of the Initiative, the agency will build on ongoing projects.

In December, the National Academy of Sciences will hold a workshop in Washington, D.C., to examine the susceptibility of older persons to environmental health hazard, and what interventions can be undertaken to reduce the exposure to environmental hazards.

The Aging Initiative will draw on the expertise of professionals and researchers at the federal, state and local levels in the fields of environment and health. EPA will also work with the public and service provider organizations dealing with the aging population. Whitman announced that public meetings to get input for the Initiative would be held in the spring in California, Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Attendees at EPA meeting for announcement of the Agency’s Aging Initiative
Abegg, Heidi - National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
Butler, Fran - American Association of International Aging
Certner, David -AARP
Dinsmore, Alan - American Federation for the Blind
Firman, James - National Council on the Aging, Inc.
Fong, Clayton - National Asian Pacific Center on Aging
Hoppert, Don - American Public Health Association
Howard, Laura - National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs
Kincheloe, Jeff - National Association for Home Care
King, Edward - National Senior Citizens Law Center
Lifsey, Diane - National Council on the Aging
Lindberg, Brian - National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
LLevat, Gladys - National Association for Hispanic Elderly
Lopatin, Alan - National Association of Senior Companion Directors/RSVP
Markwood, Sandy - National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
O’Brien, Melanie - Alliance for Aging Research
Porter, Dianna - Alliance for Retired Americans
Quirk, Daniel - National Association of State Units on Aging
Reed, Jo -AARP
Riddle, Gary - American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
Scott, Carol - National Association of State Long Term Care Ombudsmen Pgms
Schutz, Carol - The Gerontological Society of America
Sotomayor, Marta - National Hispanic Council on Aging
Stella, Frank - American Federation of Teachers
Wooten, Andrea - Experience Works
Zeitzer, Jennifer - Alzheimer's Association

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