A role model is someone who sets an exemplary standard for others. They can come from any walk of life, from any occupation or calling. They can be from near or far.

One such person was honored this week. She comes from our own back yard and gets our first thumbs up today.

On Wednesday, Andrea Amico was presented with the EPA’s national Citizen’s Excellence in Community Involvement Award.

The local mother and community activist received the national public service award from the Environmental Protection Agency for her work advocating for families exposed to PFAS contamination at the former Pease Air Force Base.

Making the presentation was EPA Region I Administrator Alexandra Dunn.

Emphasizing the importance of the presentation, Dunn told the audience that Amico, a married mother of three, was the only winner of the EPA’s national Citizen’s Excellence in Community Involvement Award this year.

“Andrea, your selection just proves what a force of nature you have truly been around this issue,” Dunn told Amico. “As a mom with older kids who can barely get myself where I need to be most days, I’m not sure how you do it all. I’m so impressed by you as an advocate and just as a wonderful person who’s very thoughtful.”

Amico, co-founder of the community activist group Testing for Pease, has been an advocate for people to learn about the health impacts of PFAS exposure since May 2014, when the city shut down its Haven well at Pease International Tradeport after the Air Force found high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS.

In addition to being a suspected carcinogen, exposure can harm childhood development, increase cholesterol levels, hurt the immune system and interfere with the human body’s hormones.

Like thousands of other people at the former air base, two of Amico’s young children and her husband were exposed to the contaminated water at the tradeport.

Dunn acknowledged it is, “much to our dismay, that this community became ground zero for the PFAS issue.”

Also attending the ceremony was U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen who lauded Amico’s efforts. “The fact the EPA has chosen to honor Andrea Amico for her advocacy really speaks to the difference she’s made in this community and nationally,” Shaheen said.

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Andrea Amico’s credits include being a co-founder of Testing for Pease along with Michelle Dalton and Alayna Davis, who also get thumps up.

Dalton, of Durham, and Davis, of Dover, along with Amico have put a face on the issue of contamination at Pease and the dangers is poses.

“We’re real people, we’re real families facing this issue and we want them to understand the personal side of things and we want them to understand what our needs are and what exactly we need from them to help us solve this problem,” Amico said prior to a meeting early this year in advance of the EPA’s first regional PFAS community engagement event.

The women have been on the forefront of pushing the EPA to lower the health advisory it set for just two of the thousands of man-made PFAS chemicals that exist – PFOS and PFOA – and set standards for the others.

Like many parents who sent their kids to day cares at Pease International Tradeport, Davis’ son was “exposed prenatally” and then again when he was three months old. Dalton's son was also exposed to the contaminated water at Pease, and she, too, worries about how that will impact their health.