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Pierce County, Washington Proclaims SunWise Day

Release Date: 05/07/2007
Contact Information: Tony Brown, EPA Region 10, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov Luke Hall-Jordan, EPA SunWise Program, (202) 343-9591, hall-jordan.luke@epa.gov

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

(TACOMA, Wash. - May 7, 2007) – In an effort to encourage County residents to adopt sun-safe behaviors, Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg proclaimed today SunWise Day in Pierce County. This proclamation is part of Pierce County’s participation in SunWise Communities, a program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that extends sun safety education through school- and community-based programs. The announcement also coincides with both Melanoma Monday and the start of National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Prevention Month in May.

“Nearly half of all new cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year are skin cancers, which is why sun safety and skin cancer prevention are such important issues to embrace,” said Elin Miller, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA is proud to partner with Pierce County in educating adults and children alike about the dangers of UV rays and the benefits of sun-safe behavior. EPA’s SunWise Program will help Pierce County families live sun-safe, healthy lives.”

As part of Executive Ladenburg’s proclamation, Pierce County has asked area schools to participate in SunWise Schools, a program designed to teach children about the dangers of overexposure to the sun and equip them with the skills to protect themselves. By using the program’s SunWise Tool Kit, students learn about sun-safe activities, such as wearing sunscreen, seeking shade during midday hours, wearing a hat and sunglasses, and other actions that can significantly reduce their lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.

“We are pleased to promote healthy, sun-safe values in Pierce County by becoming a SunWise Community,” said Executive Ladenburg. “Despite our notoriously gray skies, it is important for families to understand and protect themselves from the hidden, prevalent dangers of UV rays. The SunWise Program takes an integrative and fun approach to encouraging life-long, preventive sun-safe behavior.”

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 Skin Cancer Foundation – Facts, http://www.skincancer.org/skincancer-facts.php This year, it is estimated that 59,940 U.S. men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and 1,630 of these cases are expected to occur in Washington State alone. National Cancer Institute - http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/melan.html While more than 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure, the survival rate for individuals who achieve early detection is nearly 99 percent. American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures, http://www.cancer.org

Today, Pierce County will host a community presentation of the proclamation with the fourth-grade class of Lowell Elementary School in Tacoma. The event will include participation from Suzie Dicks, member of the Congressional Families Action for Cancer Awareness and wife of Congressman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.); a member of the Tacoma-Pierce Department of Health County Health Board; and representatives from EPA. These individuals will join together to encourage Pierce County residents to incorporate sun-safe behaviors into their daily activities.

About SunWise
The SunWise Program is an environmental and health education program that aims to teach the public how to protect itself from overexposure to the sun through the use of classroom-, school-, and community-based components. SunWise is the most widely used health education program in the U.S., with over 20,000 educators registered to use the program.

For more information about SunWise, visit www.epa.gov/sunwise or email sunwise@epa.gov.

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