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October 17, 2008

Blagojevich Administration Joins in Honoring Statewide Radon Poster Contest Winners
State encourages people to test homes for cancer-causing radon gas during Radon Action Week October 19-25

SPRINGFIELD – The Blagojevich Administration announced today that three posters designed by Illinois students depicting the hazards of radon gas in homes soon will be competing against posters from across the country in a national radon poster contest.  This morning, winners on the statewide and regional levels accepted their awards from the contest sponsors including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the American Lung Association (ALA) of Illinois and the University of Illinois Extension Office.
Also on Friday, IEMA reminded Illinois residents that Oct. 19-25 is national Radon Action Week and urged people to test their homes for the cancer-causing gas.
“Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the message these posters contain is very important,” said Governor Rod R. Blagojevich.  “We’re working hard to increase awareness of radon hazards across our state.  I appreciate the time and effort these students put into their radon posters and I know the winning entries will represent Illinois very well in the national contest.”
The National Radon Poster Contest is designed to raise awareness about the harmful effects of elevated levels of indoor radon gas and to increase the number of homes tested for radon.  The winning national poster will be unveiled at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in January 2009.  The national winner, a parent and teacher will win an all-expense paid trip to participate in the ceremony.  The national winning poster will be reproduced into a nationally distributed poster.
At a ceremony at the ALA office in Springfield Friday, statewide and regional winners received certificates and awards.  The top three state finalists’ posters will be submitted to the National Radon Poster Contest sponsored by the National Safety Council in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Those winners include:
1st Place
Ryan Smith
7th grade
Hickory Ridge School (home school)
2nd Place
Ashley Lakin
8th grade
Brownstown Junior/Senior High School
3rd Place
Keli Atwood
8th grade
Brownstown Junior/Senior High School
All three statewide winners were also named regional winners, along with Jessica Wehrle, an 8th grade student at Brownstown Junior/Senior High School in Brownstown.  Wehrle was also recognized at the awards ceremony on Friday.
“The ALA thanks the students and their families who have taken the ‘first step’ in becoming part of the team to help promote radon awareness and testing for a healthy home,” said Harold Wimmer, CEO of the ALA Upper Midwest.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that comes from the radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil.  It can enter homes and buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pumps or soil in crawlspaces.  The National Academy of Sciences and the Surgeon General estimate that 21,000 radon-related lung cancer deaths occur annually in the United States, with as many as 1,160 of those in Illinois.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has established 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) as the action level for radon in homes.  It is estimated that the risk of developing lung cancer at that level is about seven lung cancer deaths per 1,000 persons.  The USEPA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) recommend taking steps to reduce radon levels in your home if test results indicate levels of 4.0 pCi/L or above.
“The only way to know if your home has a high level of radon gas is to test,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III.  “With the weather getting cooler, now is a great time to do this because windows and doors should be closed for a more accurate test.”
Velasquez said IEMA is offering free radon test kits to help people test their homes.  Requests for test kits can be submitted through the agency’s Web site at www.radon.illinois.gov or toll-free hotline at 1-800-325-1245.  Test kits can also be purchased at most home improvement and department stores.


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