Christina and Eric Bear recognized for radon awareness efforts

(Denver, Colo. – February 2, 2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Christina and Eric Bear of Golden, Colo., have received the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) for developing a project to inform Colorado homeowners about the dangers of radon exposure.

Christina and Eric, in eighth and sixth grade respectively, initially reached out to EPA, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the American Lung Association in 2010 to get the Radon Awareness Project started. Eight months later, the siblings expanded the project to include the Jefferson County Health Department, Habitat for Humanity, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and CanSAR (Cancer Survivors against Radon) in a targeted campaign to educate homeowners about radon and testing.

The results of their efforts include reaching over 500,000 people via newspapers, TV, social media and rallies. Over 500 schools were contacted to participate in a Colorado radon poster contest and legislative action has been initiated as a result of this awareness project.

Radon, an invisible, odorless gas, can enter homes as a result of the natural decay of radioactive material in rocks and soil, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.  Colorado has an unusually high level of the gas; over 21,000 people die from radon each year in the U. S. and estimated 500 die in Colorado.

“Christina and Eric Bear have demonstrated that kids, no matter how young, can have a positive impact on environmental awareness and improving health,” said Wendy Dew, EPA’s environmental education coordinator in Denver. “The Bears have been tireless in spreading the word about radon, and their ability to bring groups together to work towards a common goal is an exceptional aspect of this project.”

The President’s Environmental Youth Award program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. for protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people.

Ten outstanding projects are selected for national recognition each year. Projects are developed by young individuals, school classes (K-12), summer camps, and youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:

    environmental science projects

    recycling programs in schools and communities

    construction of nature preserves

    major tree planting programs

    videos, skits, and newsletters that focused on environmental issues

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