SPRINGFIELD – Nearly 70 public health officials, contractors, extension educators and other radon partners are attending a day-long meeting in Springfield Monday to learn how they can increase public awareness about radon. The 7th Annual Radon Networking Day is sponsored by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Radon Program.
High levels of radon, a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas, have been found in more than 40 percent of homes tested for radon in Illinois. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the nation. However, for non-smokers, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer. It’s estimated that nearly 1,200 lung cancer deaths each year in Illinois are related to radon.
“We’re very fortunate in Illinois to have a strong network of partners throughout the state who are devoted to increasing public awareness of radon’s health hazard,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “Radon Networking Day provides a unique opportunity for these partners to hear from various experts and share information with their counterparts from around Illinois.”
During the conference, IEMA will recognize Calvin Murphy of Mount Vernon with the Illinois Excellence in Radon Award for his efforts in radon education and outreach. Murphy, a professional radon mitigation contractor for the past 20 years, was instrumental in the formation of the Southern Illinois Radon Awareness Task Force, and recently worked with the American Lung Association of Illinois on the Southern Illinois Radon Initiative. He has also served as an officer with the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists.
“Calvin has been an instrumental partner in raising radon awareness throughout the state,” said Pat Daniels, manager of the IEMA radon program.
Representatives from the following health departments and other local government agencies are scheduled to attend Radon Networking Day:
St. Clair County
Other participants in the event include representatives from the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Blessing Hospital (Quincy), Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Human Services, SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University, USEPA Region 5, University of Illinois Extension, AARST CANSAR and several radon contractors.
IEMA and its partners encourage everyone to test their homes for radon and to have a radon reduction system installed if the levels are at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/liter), the action level established by the USEPA. A study conducted by IEMA found that 42 percent of Illinois homes tested by homeowners or professional measurement contractors had high levels of radon.
More information about radon, including lists of measurement and mitigation professionals, is available on IEMA’s radon website (www.radon.illinois.gov) or by calling the Radon Hotline at 1-800-0325-1245.