Statement Of Dena Gross-Leavengood
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
April 3, 2003
Hillsborough Health Care
I am here today as a concerned citizen. I have been working for a number of years on community issues and community advocacy. I work with the League of Women Voters. I work with the Hillsborough Health Care Coalition and I work with a group called "Tomorrow Matters" trying to balance natural, social and economic systems to make more livable communities. We have had so many experts testify today and come up with some really wonderful ideas. I hesitate to list any more statistics or anything along those lines except to say that I guess that I am part of that baby boomer generation that is soon to be considered part of this older population. I already feel that I am there in many ways, hearing talk about dioxin, hearing about peri-menopausal issues. I am already experiencing those. I wonder what sort of environmental contaminants or toxins may have helped produce the early arrival of those conditions? I also work a lot with different age groups and cohorts. Right now I am teaching freshmen about local issues and I am teaching seniors how to be community activists. I have learned a lot from both groups. First of all, our freshmen are going to be older later. We have learned that there is a demographic shift that we are experiencing now with a lot of young people and a lot of older people. We've got this middle group where there is going to be a giant lag. Whatever we are going to do for our older population now may not be sustained just as we have concerns with continued Social Security funding. We are going to be getting an enormous amount of money and funding and other things put into place to take care of those of us who are now going to be experiencing age-related problems and then there is going to be a lag before this younger group catches up with us. Those are issues we have to be concerned about. I want to support the things that you are trying to do to strengthen legislation and action to protect our air, water and land. I can't emphasize that enough. I would say again that we do not need to diminish in any way any existing laws or acts but should instead enhance them. In your list of some of the environmental hazards you listed drinking water, indoor and outdoor air, pesticides, heavy metals and temperature extremes. I sat down and did just a list and came up with so many different causes and things we may not be considering. We've got the energy issue with fossil fuels and alternative fuels. We've got transportation. We've got industry, agriculture, land use. You've got natural disasters and global warming. You have, of course, volcanoes, dust storms, red tides, floods, rising water, hurricanes and storms. You've got localization and the inherent problems we are having now with travel. Then we have the war and things that are going to happen there. In this global village that we live in, things that are happening overseas are going to impact us as well. We have to take that into concern. With water, you have to link it with land and how we are using that. We have issues with all the other things we have talked about from bacterial chemicals, pharmaceutical contamination of food and water, and issues like those that we need to be thinking about. We need to think outside the box not just about the traditional things. So I would enlarge the list that you have. I particularly like the environmental hazards issues. Not only with homes, and physical safety in the areas in which you normally go but for people living alone who become shut-ins. We disenfranchise our older people because we don't provide transportation and ways for people to get around safely and be engaged in the community. Our seniors are our most valuable resource and asset and how we value them is - first of all we are going to be them - but already have members of our families that are. We really need to protect that valuable asset for our communities, ourselves, and for our economy for it will cost more if we don't think along those lines now. Thank you.