FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2011
Contact: HHS Press Office
Statement by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the 41st Anniversary of Earth Day
Originally founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, the first official Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. Forty-one years later, Earth Day is now celebrated in over 175 countries. Here at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we celebrate today and work throughout the year to promote responsible environmental policy since the health of the American people is directly linked to a healthy environment.
According to the World Health Organization, environmental hazards are responsible for as much as a quarter of the total burden of disease worldwide, and more than one third of the burden among children. At HHS we are committed to doing whatever is necessary to protect the health of all Americans, and we recognize that ensuring a clean and healthy environment is a fundamental part of that effort.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Boriken Health Center in New York where Affordable Care Act funding has helped them to renovate their facilities and significantly reduce the levels of chemicals and harmful materials normally used in construction. Ensuring that patients across the country have access to hazard-free care facilities, which are vital to the healing process, and that all Americans face fewer environmental risk factors in their day-to-day lives, are efforts that tie directly into our mission here at HHS.
Protecting the environment and our citizens’ health not only improves the quality of our lives, but it strengthens our economy and helps to create green jobs. Earth Day reminds us of our duty to work together as stewards of this planet and to ensure that future generations can continue to breathe easy and enjoy the environment we leave behind.
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Last revised: May 7, 2011