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Gov. Gregoire proclaims Washington a SunWise State

Release Date: 07/30/2008
Contact Information: Luke Hall-Jordan, EPA SunWise Program, (202) 343-9591, hall-jordan.luke@epa.gov, Megan Celedonia, Washington State Department of Health Cancer Prevention and Control Program, (360) 236-3785, or megan.celedonia@doh.wa.gov, Tony Brown, EPA Region 10 Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

First governor to proclaim a state “SunWise”; Will encourage schools, communities to use EPA’s sun safety program

(Seattle, Wash. - July 30, 2008) –To encourage Washington residents to adopt sun-safe behaviors, Gov. Chris Gregoire became the nation’s first governor to proclaim a state “SunWise” today.

This proclamation is part of Washington’s participation in SunWise Communities, a program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which extends sun safety education through school- and community-based programs. As part of the governor’s commitment, all schools throughout the state of Washington will be encouraged to adopt sun safety curriculums through EPA’s free SunWise Tool Kit.

“I am pleased to promote healthy, sun-safe values by declaring Washington a SunWise state,” Gregoire said. “While a portion of our state is known for its rain, it is important for families across the state to understand the hidden dangers of UV rays and use precaution. This program takes a holistic approach to encouraging lifelong, sun-safe behavior.”

Gregoire is asking schools across the state 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 will 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.

Washington State has the fifth-highest melanoma incidence rate and the seventh-highest melanoma fatality rate in the country. Additionally, incidence rates in counties bordering Puget Sound and those located in the state’s extreme eastern area are among the highest in Washington. In fact, melanoma occurs as often, if not more often, in the cloudy and rainy parts of the state as in the traditionally sunnier regions.

“Nearly half of all new cancers diagnosed in the United States 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 in Seattle. “The EPA is proud to partner with the state 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 Washington state families live sun-safe, healthy lives.”

The EPA has worked to help Washington’s Pierce and King Counties become SunWise Communities by encouraging schools and summer camps to take advantage of EPA’s free SunWise Tool Kit for educators and sun safety program for school-aged children. The organization has also promoted sun safety for outdoor workers and residents of those counties.

About SunWise

The SunWise Program is a national environmental and health education program that aims to teach children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun through the use of classroom-, school-, and community-based components. SunWise is the amongst the most widely-used health education programs in the United States, with more than 26,000 educators signed up to use the program. For more information about SunWise, visit www.epa.gov/sunwise or e-mail sunwise@epa.gov.

For more information about SunWise, visit www.epa.gov/sunwise or e-mail sunwise@epa.gov.