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January 4, 2010

IEMA, ALA-IL Launch Teen Video Contest during Radon Action Month
High school students encouraged to create YouTube video promoting awareness of radon health hazards

SPRINGFIELD – Seeking an innovative way to spread the message about radon’s health hazards, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the American Lung Association in Illinois (ALA-IL) today launched the “2010 Illinois High School Radon Video Contest.”  The agencies are encouraging high school students throughout the state to create 60-second YouTube videos about radon, a radioactive gas that causes an estimated 1,100 lung cancer deaths in Illinois each year.

The video contest highlights activities in Illinois during Radon Action Month in January.  Other organizations supporting the video contest include the University of Illinois Extension Office, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 5.

“For nearly two decades, we’ve been working to get the radon message out to the public, and those efforts have paid off as we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people who have tested their homes,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III.  “This video contest provides us with a new, creative method for reaching even more people with that important message, particularly young people.”

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless 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 USEPA has determined that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind smoking.  However, among non-smokers, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer.

Studies conducted by IEMA show that more than 40 percent of homes tested in Illinois had excess levels of radon.

Videos entered in the contest can be created by an individual student, group of students or classroom.  The winning entrants’ school will receive a $2,000 prize to be used for curricular activities, and the winning student or students will receive a $1,000 prize.  The winning video will also be featured on the IEMA and ALA-IL websites.

Video entries in the “2010 Illinois High School Radon Video Contest” must be submitted by March 12.  The one-minute videos will be judged by members of the sponsoring organizations.  In addition, the videos will be posted to www.proprofs.com/polls (keyword: Radon), where the public can view and vote for their favorite entry from March 17-31.  The winning entry will be announced in April.

"Our main goal of this video contest is to increase radon awareness within school communities," said Harold Wimmer, ALA-IL President and CEO.  "Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the only way to know if your home has radon is to test."

For full details about the contest, including entry and release forms, visit the ALA-IL website at www.lungil.org.  Questions regarding the contest can be directed to Melinda Lewis of the ALA-IL at (217) 787-5864 ext. 262.  Information about radon, including testing results by county and lists of IEMA-licensed radon measurement and mitigation contractors, is available at www.radon.illinois.gov



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