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King County, WA Pledges to Become Nation’s First SunWise Community

Release Date: 05/01/2006
Contact Information: Paula Selzer, (202)343"9361, Director, SunWise Initiatives, selzer.paula@epa.gov Tony Brown, (206) 553"1203, EPA Region 10 Public Affairs, brown.anthony@epa.gov

County promotes EPA’s sun safety initiatives through school, community outreach

Seattle, WA (May 1, 2006) " King County Executive Ron Sims today pledged to make King County the nation’s first SunWise Community by encouraging County residents to adopt sun safe behaviors as part of National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. SunWise Communities is a program developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that extends sun safety education community"wide through classrooms, schools, and community"based programs.

"You would think living in Seattle where it’s cloudy and overcast much of the year that UV rays couldn’t hurt you; however, you may be surprised to know that you can still get burned when it’s cloudy," said Michael Bogert, EPA Regional Administrator. "EPA is proud to be partnering with King County to help children and adults learn how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. EPA’s SunWise program will help families live sun"safe, healthy lives."

As part of Executive Sims’ proclamation, King County has asked area schools to participate in EPA’s SunWise Program, a program designed to teach children about the dangers of overexposure to the sun and equip them with the skills to protect themselves. By utilizing the program’s SunWise Tool Kit, students will learn about sun"safe behaviors and can take steps to designate their school a "Sun Safety Zone." Students will also be invited to sign a pledge to practice sun safety, actions which can include wearing sunscreen, limiting time in mid"day sun, monitoring the daily UV index, and other activities that can significantly reduce their lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.

"Despite our reputation as a cloudy region, people in King County love the outdoors. As we spend more time outdoors this spring and summer, we increase our potential exposure to harmful UV rays," said Ron Sims, King County Executive. "We should all take the time to protect ourselves and our families from these harmful rays. As part of our commitment to becoming a SunWise Community, we will encourage King County residents and their families to adopt life"long, preventive sun safe behaviors."

King County residents who are interested in sun safety can show their support during the Melanoma International Foundations’ Safe from the Sun Event on Saturday May 6th, 2006 at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. Attendees will have the chance to take part in a two mile walk for cancer and also obtain a free skin cancer screening from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). This event will aim to secure a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for most skin cancer screenings performed at once.

Since 1973, new cases of melanoma have increased by approximately 150 percent. Most skin cancers are directly linked to sun exposure, yet fewer than 33 percent of adults, adolescents, and children routinely use sun protection, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The number of skin cancer cases in the US this year is estimated to be 1.3 million which surpasses the combined total cases of breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer.

About SunWise
The SunWise program is an environmental and health education sun safety program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help kids learn how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun through the use of classroom"based, school"based, and community"based programs. About Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month (cited from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. The month is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the importance of skin cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment, including basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. According to the United States Cancer Statistics: 1999"2002 Incidence and Mortality Report, 44,582 new cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in this country in 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are currently available. That same year, melanomas of the skin claimed the lives of 7,513 Americans. Although death rates from basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are low, these cancers can cause considerable damage and disfigurement if they are untreated. However, when detected early, approximately 95 percent of these carcinomas can be cured.

Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999-2002 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute; 2005. Available at: www.cdc.gov/cancer/npcr/uscs.

For more information about the EPA Region 10 SunWise program you can call the Public Environmental Resource Center at (206) 553-1200 or 1-800-424-4EPA.


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