Statement Of Ken Philbrick
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
May 7, 2003
Maryland Department of the Environment
I appreciate the opportunity to be here today, and bring greetings from Governor Ehrlich and Lt. Governor Steele. Addressing the environmental hazards that threaten the health of older Americans is critically important to protecting the quality of life now and even more so in the years ahead. I have a few more statistics. The Federal Census projections show that the total number of people in Maryland over 65 will almost double between 2000 and 2025. According to the most recent Census in Maryland, we have a population of about 5.2 million - over 11 percent are over the age of 65. On a national scale, Maryland ranks 20th. Federal, state and environmental agencies must do everything we can to protect the health of our seniors. Our own life expectancies depend on it. There are some specific actions we can take in our individual capacities. Let me point out a few things to you
Older Americans are less able to fight off waterborne pathogens and these can be life threatening. The Maryland Department of the Environment is eagerly seeking solutions to combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows to reduce the introduction of these harmful pathogens into ground water and surface water. Those of you from this area remember the Herring Run overflow. We need to continue upgrading our wastewater treatment plants and drinking water infrastructure. The state revolving loan fund is an excellent example of the EPA and the State environmental agency working in cooperation with each other. SRF funds enable critical infrastructure improvements to our wasterwater treatment plants and our drinking water systems. In terms of air pollution based on 2000 Census Data and current ozone non-attainment data, over 80 percent of Maryland=s population reside in areas with ozone problems. According to the American Lung Association, there are over 500,000 citizens living in non-attainment areas in Maryland who are risk for breathing problems based on illness. This number was generated based on the number of people who had difficulty based on asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The ALA report also states that another 1.4 million people are risk soled based on their age. MD has two counties, Ann Arundel and Harford that are on the list of the two most 25 ozone- polluted counties listed by the ALA. Combined these counties have more than 70,000 over 65 who are at higher risk. One of the problems in trying to control ozone pollution is to control the transport from those states west of Maryland. That can affect the health and the air here in the Mid-Atlantic states. We are trying to deal with this problem with solutions that will reduce or minimize the effects of this pollution and thus their health effects as well.
As older Americans can be more susceptible to lower levels of ozone pollution, it is probable that even low levels can have an impact on their lives. I look forward to working with the EPA recognizing the complex issues surrounding the health of our population and especially the concern of an increasing elderly population in Maryland. I commend EPA to listen today to the concern that you have.