248112 Policies, Practice and Research: Environmental Health and Aging

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:30 AM

Kathy Sykes, MA , US EPA Aging Initiative, U.S. EPA, Washington, DC
Margaret B. Neal, PhD , Portland State University, Institute on Aging, Portland, OR
Jennifer Crittenden, MSW , Center on Aging, University of Maine, Bangor, ME
Rodney Harrell, PhD , Housing and Livable Communities, Public Policy Institute, AARP, Washington, DC
The physical environment can positively contribute to a community's health through universal design, sidewalks, street networks, and land use patterns. Community-wide physical activity programs are also needed for active aging. The perception of a safe, secure environment that lacks health hazards is an additional factor. A healthy community offers protections from potential dangers and promotes opportunities for community engagement and physical activity.

Cars and other mobile sources generate greenhouse gas emissions in the short and long term. Short-lived greenhouse pollutants, such as sulfates, carbon, and ozone are significant risk factors for cardiovascular mortality. Poor air quality due primarily to ozone and particulate matter are responsible for premature deaths in many older adults with underlying cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and diabetes.

In 2008, 36% of persons 65 and older lived in counties with poor air quality for ozone and 11% for PM 2.5. Reducing these pollutants can result in an immediate health dividend. Strategies that address air pollution and redesign the built environment can reduce the need for driving.

Since 2007, EPA has recognized 20 communities that have implemented the principles of smart growth with the concepts of active aging. These communities are early adopters and ambassadors for building healthy communities through smart planning and physical activity programming. Recent results from a demonstration pilot project for sustainable streets and greenway from Portland State University and a successful model training program for older adults from the University of Maine's Center on Aging, “ENCorps” will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Environmental health sciences
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe promising best community practices to encourage healthy communities for active aging. Identify elements or characteristics of communities that have a supportive built environment for odler adults.

Keywords: Community Planning, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked since 1985 in public policy, health and or aging at the state, congressional and federal level. Since 2002, I have served as the senior advisor of the U.S. EPA Aging Initiative.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.