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Iowa City Girl Uses Summer to Study Radon Data

While many of her peers are using the summer for a relaxing break, an Iowa City girl is using her summer to study.

Eleanor Mildenstein, 11, has been collecting data to determine if home radon tests are as effective in summer as winter, lobbying legislators to allow the sale of electronic readers in Iowa, and speaking with builders and Realtors about the importance of radon mitigation systems.

“It was a lot of work at first, but in the end it was worth it,” Mildenstein said.

Iowa has the highest percentage of homes in the U.S. that are above Environmental Protection Agency recommended mitigation level, she said.

But it hasn’t been all sweat. Mildenstein, who will start seventh grade at South East Junior High this month, returned from a trip to Fortuna, Costa Rica, where she also discussed her radon project. The trip was a reward for her group placing second in the national Siemens We Can Save the World Challenge for their age range.

Seventh graders Jordan Penfold of Iowa City and Payton Kline of Cedar Rapids were partners in the project and also traveled to Costa Rica. Hector Ibarra, who taught for 30 years in the West Branch school district before retiring in 2010, served as their mentor.

Mildenstein is also starting a composting project, has studied lead in fish sinkers, and tested stream samples as part of a workshop at the State Hygienic Laboratory.

Mildenstein said her biggest lesson from her work is that kids can make a difference.

“Probably the best thing I learned is that kids do really have a voice,” she said.

Read more: http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20110808/NEWS01/110808005/Iowa-City-girl-uses-summer-study-radon-data.