Students Honored for Arsenic Research

A group of middle school students in Texas received the President's Environmental Youth Award for their work in lowering the levels of arsenic in drinking water.
Students Honored for Arsenic Research

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that eight middle school children from Whiteface, Texas, won the President’s Environmental Youth Award for their work to fight arsenic — a public health threat.

The awards are presented each year to exceptional students and teachers who demonstrate creativity, innovation and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges.

“These remarkable young students and teachers are making a difference in their community and across Texas,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry in a press release. “I’m inspired to see such creative and inspiring work coming from young stewards.”

The team of sixth- and seventh-graders won the award for a three year-long environmental education and stewardship campaign to eliminate their catchphrase, “Arsenic — It’s What’s for Dinner.”

The middle school students, called the Arsenic Arresters, led a research project in their community to decrease contamination and human exposure to arsenic. Groundwater that is contaminated by arsenic is the main source of drinking water in their community, Cochran County, Texas. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal and a known carcinogen.

The group conducted field research, interviews and tested drinking water, wetlands, native plants and soil in the community. They discovered that sand dropseed grass is an effective tool in removing arsenic from the soil and that water drawn from the hot side of the tap had lower levels of arsenic than water from the cold side. The project led to a reduction in both county and state arsenic levels.

Established in 1971, the President’s Environmental Youth Award promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Focused on environmental stewardship, one outstanding project from each of EPA’s 10 regions is selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, K-12 school classes and youth organizations.


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