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News Releases from Region 06

Whiteface, Texas students receive Presidents Environmental Education Award for helping to eliminate Arsenic

Contact Information: 
Joe Hubbard (r6press@epa.gov)
Jennah Durant

DALLAS - (July 17, 2015) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that eight middle school children from Whiteface, Texas won the President's Environmental Youth Award for their work to fight arsenic-a public health threat. The awards are presented each year to exceptional students and teachers who demonstrate creativity, innovation, and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges.

"These remarkable young students and teachers are making a difference in their community and across Texas," said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. "I'm inspired to see such creative and inspiring work coming from young stewards."

The team of six and seventh graders won the award for their three year-long environmental education and stewardship campaign to eliminate their catchphrase, "Arsenic-It's What's for Dinner."

The middle school students, called the Arsenic Arresters, led a research project in their community to decrease contamination and human exposure to arsenic. Groundwater that is contaminated by arsenic is the main source of drinking water in their community, Cochran County, Texas. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal and a known carcinogen.

The group conducted field research, interviews and tested drinking water, wetlands, native plants, and soil in their community. They discovered that sand dropseed grass is an effective tool in removing arsenic from the soil and that water drawn from the hot side of the tap had lower levels of arsenic than water from the cold side. The project led to a reduction in both county and state arsenic levels.

Established in 1971, the President's Environmental Youth Award promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Focused on environmental stewardship, one outstanding project from each of EPA's ten regions is selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, K-12 school classes, and youth organizations. Learn more at: www.epa.gov/peya.

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