Veteran Environmental Health Expert Erik D. Olson to Join Pew

Contact: Kip Patrick, 202.552.2135


Washington, DC - 01/08/2009 - The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today that Erik D. Olson has been named director, chemical and food safety programs, in its Health & Human Services Policy program*. Olson, who was formerly deputy staff director and general counsel of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, brings nearly 25 years of experience in environmental policy and consumer advocacy to Pew. 

“We are excited to be joined by such an experienced advocate for reducing unnecessary consumer risk, which will further our efforts to protect the health and well being of all Americans,” said Shelley Hearne, managing director of Pew’s Health & Human Services Policy Program. “Erik’s knowledge of health threats from toxic chemicals and contaminated consumer products, combined with his dedication to coalition building and science-based advocacy, make him a natural fit for Pew’s nonpartisan, fact-based approach to tackling some of the nation’s toughest problems.” 

Olson’s Senate tenure included extensive work on environmental and health threats from toxic chemicals, including playing a key role in major environmental legislation and hearings on toxic chemicals, children’s environmental health, drinking water, clean water and environmental justice. He also was instrumental in negotiating the lead and phthalates provisions enacted in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, and in passage of the green buildings and green schools provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Prior to his Senate work, Olson worked for 15 years at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he held various positions including advocacy center director, public health program director and a senior attorney. He previously served as counsel for the National Wildlife Federation’s environmental quality program for five years, and as an attorney for EPA’s Office of General Counsel, working on toxics and water issues.

In his new role, Olson will be responsible for consumer product safety, including efforts to improve food safety, overhaul toxic chemical regulatory programs to better protect children, and establish safeguards for emerging risks in consumer products.

Pew’s Health and Human Services Policy program seeks to improve the health and well being of all Americans. Based on research and critical analysis, the program advocates policies that reduce unacceptable health risk, focusing on areas that include consumer, medical and food safety.

*Effective Spring 2011, Erik Olson is director of Food Programs, Pew Health Group.

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