Share Your Sustainability Stories for Rio+20

by Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

This week I join colleagues from across the US and around the world at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. On the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN Earth Summit that set an early course for sustainability across the globe, we are working to shape the next 20 years of sustainable development with the help of governments, businesses, students, non-profits and global citizens.

Our work will be focused on new strategies to reinvest in the health and prosperity of urban communities. Today, more people around the world live in cities than in rural areas. As that trend continues in the coming years, we will stretch the limits of our transportation systems and energy infrastructure, and be challenged to meet crucial needs like supplying food and clean water, and safely disposing of waste. We’re taking this opportunity at Rio+20 to develop strategies for both improving existing infrastructure and building new, efficient, cutting-edge systems. Innovations in water protection, waste disposal, energy production, construction and transportation present significant opportunities for new technologies, green jobs and savings for families, businesses and communities.

During my time in Rio, I plan to talk about the great work happening in communities across our nation. I will be sharing the stories of individuals and organizations that are implementing new environmental education programs and creating the green jobs of the future, and we’re preparing to unveil videos submitted through the Youth Sustainability Challenge. We want to hear from you as well. Please send us your stories of sustainability this week on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #EPArio so that we can share them with the world.

Even if you can’t be there in person, I hope you will join Rio+20 online. Go to http://conx.state.gov/event/rio20/ to see and participate in all of the events being hosted by the US government, and be a part of our efforts to build a better, more sustainable and more prosperous future.

About the author: Lisa Jackson is the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

How Can You Help Environmental Justice Communities Create an Oasis in a Food Desert?

By Ann Carroll

It’s a simple question. How far do you have to go to get healthy food?

I’m lucky. I can walk eight blocks to get to a full service grocery store. If I bike in the other direction, I have even more options: a Latino food market and a grocery store full of organic vegetables, fruits, and other healthy options. In a pinch, Swiss chard from my garden becomes a meal of fresh greens.

While many people associate environmental justice with reducing pollution problems, access to healthy food is just as essential for public health as well. In many urban and rural areas, families may have a long journey to get healthy, fresh foods. The ‘Food Desert’ as it is now called, is an area where residents don’t have easy access to fresh food. While the definitions and distances vary in a city or rural area, the idea is the same: Getting healthy food is hard work in a food desert.

Many brownfields communities also are ‘food deserts’ where options for getting healthy foods are difficult. Brownfields are abandoned properties or vacant lots where the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination prevents reuse.#

In the last few years, the EPA, our state and tribal partners and community leaders have highlighted how brownfield communities can change their ‘food environment’ as part of site. They are putting brownfields to new healthy uses that improve food access in underserved areas, contributing to public health and economic development.

You can learn how former brownfields are becoming supermarkets, farmer’s markets, urban farms, community gardens, and even food banks. Take a look at the resources we’ve developed from projects or those of our Superfund colleagues.

Do you live in a food desert? These maps from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help connect you to your food environment.

You can help your community see that vacant building or abandoned gas station in a new way. It may be a brownfield now, but it can improve food access in your community. You can work with local officials to pick safe garden sites and learn what vacant lots to avoid due to likely environmental contamination. Talk to your city or town about whether a brownfield grant can fund assessing or cleaning lots or structures to become the supermarket, greenhouse, garden, urban farm, farmers market or a healthier grocery store you need.

About the author: Ann Carroll has a science and public health background and has worked on environmental health issues in the US and internationally for close to 30 years and with the EPA’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization for the last ten years. She helps communities assess and clean brownfields and plan for their safe reuse. Ann is working on a doctorate in environmental health and is a Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for a Livable Future.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

How Can You Help Environmental Justice Communities Create an Oasis in a Food Desert?

Andrew Yuen Andrew Yuen

By Ann Carroll

It’s a simple question. How far do you have to go to get healthy food?

I’m lucky. I can walk eight blocks to get to a full service grocery store. If I bike in the other direction, I have even more options: a Latino food market and a grocery store full of organic vegetables, fruits, and other healthy options. In a pinch, Swiss chard from my garden becomes a meal of fresh greens.

While many people associate environmental justice with reducing pollution problems, access to healthy food is just as essential for public health as well. In many urban and rural areas, families may have a long journey to get healthy, fresh foods. The ‘Food Desert’ as it is now called, is an area where residents don’t have easy access to fresh food. While the definitions and distances vary in a city or rural area, the idea is the same: Getting healthy food is hard work in a food desert.

Many brownfields communities also are ‘food deserts’ where options for getting healthy foods are difficult. Brownfields are abandoned properties or vacant lots where the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination prevents reuse.#

In the last few years, the EPA, our state and tribal partners and community leaders have highlighted how brownfield communities can change their ‘food environment’ as part of site. They are putting brownfields to new healthy uses that improve food access in underserved areas, contributing to public health and economic development.

You can learn how former brownfields are becoming supermarkets, farmer’s markets, urban farms, community gardens, and even food banks. Take a look at the resources we’ve developed from projects or those of our Superfund colleagues.

Do you live in a food desert? These maps from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help connect you to your food environment.

You can help your community see that vacant building or abandoned gas station in a new way. It may be a brownfield now, but it can improve food access in your community. You can work with local officials to pick safe garden sites and learn what vacant lots to avoid due to likely environmental contamination. Talk to your city or town about whether a brownfield grant can fund assessing or cleaning lots or structures to become the supermarket, greenhouse, garden, urban farm, farmers market or a healthier grocery store you need.

About the author: Ann Carroll has a science and public health background and has worked on environmental health issues in the US and internationally for close to 30 years and with the EPA’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization for the last ten years. She helps communities assess and clean brownfields and plan for their safe reuse. Ann is working on a doctorate in environmental health and is a Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for a Livable Future.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program Focuses on Making a Difference in Communities

By Melinda Downing

As the Department of Energy’s Environmental Justice Program Manager, I am committed to making environmental justice a reality. That means ensuring that all stakeholders are informed about the issues affecting their communities and have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in environmental decision-making.

To help achieve this goal, we sponsor the 2012 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program (NEJC), which will take place in Washington DC, April 11-13, 2012. This year’s conference will focus specifically on youth outreach and how we can enhance communities through capacity building and technical assistance.

One speaker I am very excited about is Nancy Sutley, who has provided leadership across the federal government on environmental justice in her role as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Ms. Sutley will be the morning keynote speaker for the conference on Friday, April 13th. And, while, you may know her as the Congresswoman of the United States Virgin Islands, the Honorable Dr. Donna M. Christensen (D-VI) has been a big champion for the environment and a cheerleader for eliminating health disparities for years. She will be leading a panel discussion on Thursday April 12th.

For those of you who are most interested in sharing best practices or garnering a few, we also have selected Lisa Garcia, Senior Advisor to the Administrator at the EPA, and Daria Neal, Deputy Chief of the Federal Compliance Section for the U. S. Department of Justice, to lead interactive sessions over the three-day conference. Native Alaskan Jacqueline Shirley from the Zender Group and Vernice Miller-Travis of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities will also share their best environmental justice practices for community capacity building and collaboration. And, we have added an online environmental justice training module, which will not only provide useful information, but also allow participants to receive continuing education credit.

Registration is almost at capacity. With only a month to go, you should register today! For more information about conference and the list of speakers, visit

About the author: Melinda Downing joined Department of Energy’s Washington, DC headquarters office in 1978 and currently oversees the Department’s Environmental Justice Program. Working in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, a partnership was established with various communities around the country to provide them with training, resources and education to address their environmental concerns and issues and to give them a voice at the table to be a part of the decision-making process. The Department of Energy along with the Environmental Protection Agency is a member of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice which consists of 17 Federal agencies committed to the principals of Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program Focuses on Making a Difference in Communities

By Melinda Downing

As the Department of Energy’s Environmental Justice Program Manager, I am committed to making environmental justice a reality. That means ensuring that all stakeholders are informed about the issues affecting their communities and have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in environmental decision-making.

To help achieve this goal, we sponsor the 2012 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program (NEJC), which will take place in Washington DC, April 11-13, 2012. This year’s conference will focus specifically on youth outreach and how we can enhance communities through capacity building and technical assistance.

One speaker I am very excited about is Nancy Sutley, who has provided leadership across the federal government on environmental justice in her role as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Ms. Sutley will be the morning keynote speaker for the conference on Friday, April 13th. And, while, you may know her as the Congresswoman of the United States Virgin Islands, the Honorable Dr. Donna M. Christensen (D-VI) has been a big champion for the environment and a cheerleader for eliminating health disparities for years. She will be leading a panel discussion on Thursday April 12th.

For those of you who are most interested in sharing best practices or garnering a few, we also have selected Lisa Garcia, Senior Advisor to the Administrator at the EPA, and Daria Neal, Deputy Chief of the Federal Compliance Section for the U. S. Department of Justice, to lead interactive sessions over the three-day conference. Native Alaskan Jacqueline Shirley from the Zender Group and Vernice Miller-Travis of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities will also share their best environmental justice practices for community capacity building and collaboration. And, we have added an online environmental justice training module, which will not only provide useful information, but also allow participants to receive continuing education credit.

Registration is almost at capacity. With only a month to go, you should register today! For more information about conference and the list of speakers, visit

About the author: Melinda Downing joined Department of Energy’s Washington, DC headquarters office in 1978 and currently oversees the Department’s Environmental Justice Program. Working in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, a partnership was established with various communities around the country to provide them with training, resources and education to address their environmental concerns and issues and to give them a voice at the table to be a part of the decision-making process. The Department of Energy along with the Environmental Protection Agency is a member of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice which consists of 17 Federal agencies committed to the principals of Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Federal EJ Strategies Mark a Major Development in the Advancement of Environmental Justice

By Lisa Garcia

Since the start of the Obama Administration, we at EPA and other federal agencies have made tremendous strides toward addressing the public health and environmental problems that exist in many low-income, minority, and tribal communities across the country.

Ever since the EPA and the White House reconvened the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) for the first time in 10 years, we are collaboratively and comprehensively bolstering environmental justice efforts across federal programs, policies and activities.

Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than our recent release of federal agency environmental justice strategies. More than 10 EJ IWG agencies released or updated their strategies which include efforts to, monitor pollution, provide grants and technical assistance to stakeholders, and improve job training. For example, the Department of Commerce is providing competitive grants to support workforce development in economically distressed and underserved communities. I often hear when I am out in communities, that efforts like these make a real difference, both for the participants who receive job training and the neighborhoods they serve. Find out more about the efforts EPA has planned in our strategy, Plan EJ 2014.

These strategies also encourage agencies to work together to ensure the necessary resources and expertise are available to address challenging environmental justice issues. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is an excellent illustration of how, by working together, the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Transportation (DOT) and EPA are helping to improve access to affordable housing, provide more transportation options at lower costs, and protect the environment in communities nationwide. This partnership is making a big difference in communities, including Bridgeport, Conn, where more than 90% of the population is low-income or minority.

In 2010, Bridgeport was chosen to be one of EPA’s EJ Showcase Communities, a project that seeks to bring together government and other organizations to improve the delivery of services in communities with environmental justice concerns. Now, through improved collaboration between federal agencies, Bridgeport community leaders are leveraging more than $25 million to advance environmental justice—including a $14 million Department of Education grant that is helping low-income and minority students become college ready and an $11 million grant from DOT to support infrastructure improvements including creating bikeways and connections between the waterfront and surrounding neighborhoods.

Through continued collaboration, like the effort in Bridgeport, EPA, federal agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia, can each play a role in ensuring that all communities are protected from environmental harm and benefit from important federal government activities.

About the author: Lisa Garcia is the Senior Advisor on Environmental Justice to Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Black History Month: In The Spirit of Service and Stewardship

By Carolyn House Stewart, Esq.

Alpha Kappa Alpha women are known for wearing their pink and green as they serve communities all over the globe.To effectively serve in these communities requires being healthy.

As one of the world’s leading service organizations primarily comprised of African-American women, we have a mandate to promote programs on heart health, asthma, cancer prevention, diabetes awareness and other health initiatives as part of our service mission.

We are honored to be working closely with the EPA and Administrator Jackson, to help educate our members on the importance of protecting human health and the environment. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and EPA share a commitment to address human health issues and to expand the environmental conversation within the communities we serve.

This partnership supports our programmatic theme: “Global Leadership Through Timeless Service.”

Our health is our wealth, so we encourage our members to take simple actions to mitigate the impact of health and environmental hazards. These include recycling at our national and regional conferences, raising awareness on heart health through programs like “pink goes red for a day” in support of the American Heart Association’s Go Red Campaign, and by supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” fitness campaign.

Together, AKA and the EPA are working to promote greater awareness about environmental triggers that can lead to asthma attacks and other ailments that compromise health. Our hope is that our partnership with the EPA is only the beginning of an ongoing national dialog to educate and empower women of color to be greater advocates for healthier environments.

As the leader of this dynamic organization, I have a personal stake in conveying this message. So, in the spirit of love, I appeal to you to make the changes, adjustments and modifications in your lives, so we all can be better stewards of our environment. It is a gift of love you give yourself, your family and your community.

About the author: Carolyn House Stewart of Tampa, Florida was installed as the 28th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The swearing-in ceremony was marked by a compelling mix of pageantry, pomp and ritual and was witnessed by an overflow crowd of members. It marked the climax of the Sorority’s weeklong conference that took place July 9-16 at St. Louis’ Convention Center.  In ascending to the international presidency, Attorney Stewart becomes the first lawyer to head the organization. She also makes history as the first president to serve a full term in the Sorority’s second centennial. Alpha Kappa Alpha celebrated its first century in 2008

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

We Want to Hear from You!

By Lina Younes

For more than a decade, EPA has had a Spanish presence on the Web in order to provide information to the Spanish-speaking community across the nation. The Agency has always made an effort to provide relevant information on key environmental issues to Hispanics so together, we can fulfill our mission of protecting human health and the environment. However, the Web content in Spanish has only been a fraction of what is readily available on EPA’s main website. After months of hard work of reviewing our Spanish content, we have just given a new “look and feel” to EPA’s Spanish portal. Not only did we want to make the website more consistent with the experience that many have when they visit our English pages, we also wanted to make sure that we offered the relevant information needed for the Spanish-speaking community to make informed decisions about its health and the environment. Do Spanish-speaking consumers find the environmental information they are looking for when they visit our site? Do small businesses find the information needed to adopt green business practices? Do teachers find useful tools to develop lesson plans that will foster environmental education in and outside of the classroom?

We have also made a concerted effort to bring the new Spanish site into the 21st century by developing the latest social media tools in Spanish and readily displaying them on our site. We are proud of our new page, but we want to hear from you! That’s why in cyber-speak we decided to go with a “beta launch” or also known as a “soft launch.” Why? Because we plan to continue developing this page to make it better. We want to add additional content in Spanish that will serve your needs. We want your feedback regarding how easy it is for you to navigate through our new page and if you find the information you are looking for most often. Do the pictures and graphics convey the intended message or distract you from the information at hand? Are there informational gaps?

So, check it out . We want to know your opinion. We need your feedback. We welcome constructive criticism. We want to hear from you!

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as EPA’s Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Una palabra con cinco letras para un gas radioactivo inerte

El otro día trabajaba en un crucigrama del periódico bastante difícil cuando me tropecé con esta clave – palabra con cinco letras para un gas radioactivo inerte. Bien, me dije a mí mismo, creo que sé ésta. Tiene que ser radón. Me hubiera gustado que el resto del crucigrama fuera igual de fácil!

Enero es el Mes Nacional de Acción de Radón y estoy escribiendo este blog para crear conciencia acerca de los peligros del radón. Afortunadamente, aquí puedo ofrecer más información que la clave de un crucigrama.

El radón es un gas que se produce en la naturaleza del uranio radioactivo en el suelo y en las rocas que se encuentra alrededor del mundo entero. Ya que los materiales radioactivos se descomponen y cambian con el tiempo, usted podría pensar que el uranio se desintegra. Sí, de hecho, se desintegra, primero y se convierte en radio, y después de un tiempo, el radio se desintegra en radón. Ya que el radón es un gas, este se mueve fácilmente a través del suelo y fluye desde el suelo hacia la atmosfera y los edificios. ¿Ahora comprende por qué me preocupan los niveles de radón en los hogares?

De hecho, aunque parece una idea descabellada, el radón puede adentrarse fácilmente en su hogar. Tome como ejemplo donde yo vivo, en nuestro frío clima del medio oeste, necesitamos calentar nuestros hogares. Al calentar el aire, el aire tibio sube y crea una mayor presión arriba y una baja presión abajo, que básicamente trabaja como una aspiradora que succiona el suelo debajo de la casa. Es por esta razón que vemos niveles elevados de radón en los sótanos y en los pisos bajos de algunos edificios.

Peor aún es el hecho de que aunque usted no puede ver ni oler el radón, éste si le hace daño. ¿Pensaba que el proceso de desintegración eliminaba el radón? Pues, claro que no lo elimina. El radón es radioactivo, así que también se descompone, y cuando lo hace libera partículas alfa. En sus pulmones, las partículas alfa causan daño al golpear los tejidos. El respirar muchas partículas alfa puede causar serios problemas de salud, incluyendo cáncer. El radón es la segunda causa principal de cáncer pulmonar, y la primera causa de cáncer pulmonar entre las personas que no fuman.

Por su salud y por la salud de su familia, haga la prueba de radón en su hogar. Hacer la prueba es la única manera de saber si los niveles de radón en su hogar están elevados. Si encuentra niveles de radón altos – 4 picocuríes o más – haga los arreglos en su hogar- lo cual también es fácil de hacer. Simplemente mire la página web de radón de la EPA. Me gustaría que el resto del crucigrama hubiera sido tan fácil como es hacer la prueba de radón.

Jack Barnette es un científico ambiental que trabaja para la División de Aire y Radiación en la oficina regional de la EPA en Chicago. El señor Barnette ha trabajado con la EPA desde el 1984, Antes de unirse a la EPA, trabajó para la Agencia Medioambiental del Sstado de Illinois. El señor Barnette trabaja en un número de asuntos del medio ambiente y salud publica incluyendo la calidad del aire interior, protección de radiación, educación en asma y monitoreo del aire.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Blue and Gold Make Green: A High School Recycling Success Story

By Tess Clinkingbeard

I was always interested in the environment, but I never imagined that this curiosity would result in my being a student intern at the EPA!

It all started when my high school’s Green Team won the President’s Environmental Youth Award and two representatives, from the EPA office in Seattle, came to our school to present our award.

Out of all the PEYA contestants last year in Region 10, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, Tahoma’s Green Team was selected to have done the best job of improving our community’s environment.

From September 2009 to December 2010, Tahoma High School began five specialized recycling programs, for everything from Styrofoam to batteries—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Led by Green Team President, Cort Hammond, Tahoma’s Green Team was able to do two adopt-a-road events, initiate food waste recycling at our school and become a Level One Green School. We were able to save the school district $24,000 through lunchroom recycling.

Tahoma’s Green Team Motto, “Blue and Gold Make Green!” after the school’s colors, is a perfect summation of the transformation that has occurred. As you approach the school, there are five solar panels on the front, which generate some of the energy we use every day. There are recycling bins in every classroom, posters about how to sort waste in the lunchroom and every light switch has a reminder sticker about turning off the lights when leaving the room. The student store and coffee stand have compostable cups. Green Team is working on extending that to utensils and reusable dishes.

All of our hard work paid off in the form of a National PEYA Award. When we received our award, we were also notified about summer internships, and, after an interview and a lot of paperwork, I was working at the EPA! I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work so closely with those on the frontlines of the battle for environmental justice. The EPA’s summer internship program is an amazing opportunity to gain real life experience.

About the author: Tess Clinkingbeard is a Senior at Tahoma High School, and is now a Co-President, along with Cassandra Houghton, of the Green Team. She is currently interning at the EPA’s office in Seattle and aspires to go into environmental studies and Spanish.

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