Story last updated at 5/29/2013 - 2:08 pm
Port Alexander seventh-grader Quinton Griggs might live in a temperate rainforest, but he's been learning about the dangers of ultra-violet (UV) radiation at school through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's SunWise program. Griggs entered the 2013 SunWise with SHADE Poster Contest, taking first place for the State of Alaska. Along with winning a digital camera, his poster was displayed at Union Station, and then moved to the Washington, D.C. Children's Museum for the summer.
Even though Southeast Alaska lies under a layer of cloud cover more often than not, UV exposure is still a concern since the appearance of an "ozone hole" over the Antarctic in the early 1980s, which has decreased the earth's natural protection from the sun's harmful UV rays.
Students are taught to take sensible precautions to avoid sun-related health problems like sunburn, melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, premature aging and wrinkling of skin, cataracts, and other eye damage by wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen. Children particularly need sun protection education since unprotected sun exposure during youth increases their lifetime risk for skin cancer.
The U.S. National Weather Service offers daily forecasts of current dangers using a computer model that relates the ground-level strength of solar UV radiation to forecasted stratospheric ozone concentration, forecasted cloud amounts, and elevation for the entire country. These predictions can be found at www.epa.gov/sunwise.
Fourth- through eighth-grade state winners are entered into a national contest for a family trip to Disney World and the winning school in the national contest will receive a Shade 'N Net shade structure.